Skip to main content

Full text of "The message of Sadhu Sundar Singh : a study in mysticism on practical religion"

See other formats


THE MESSAGE OF 

SADHU SUNDAR SINGH 

A STUDY IN MYSTICISM ON 
PRACTICAL RELIGION 



THE MACMILLAN COMPANY 

NBW YORK BOSTON CHICAGO - DALLAS 
ATLANTA SAN FRANCISCO 

MACMILLAN & CO., LIMITED 

LONDON BOMBAY CALCUTTA 
MELBOURNE 

THE MACMILLAN CO OF CANADA, LTD. 

TORONTO 






THE MESSAGE OF 
SADHU SUNDAR SINGH 



A STUDY IN MYSTICISM ON 
PRACTICAL RELIGION 



BY 



B. H. STREETER, M.A. (OXON.), HON. D.D. (DIN.) 

FELLOW OP QUHHH S COLLEGE, OXFORD; CANON RESIDENTIARY OF HEREFORD; 
EDITOR OF FOUNDATIONS. CONCERNING PRAYER, IMMORTALITY. 

TUB spimrr. GOD AND THB STEUCGLB FOR EXISTENCE 



AND 



A. J. APPASAMY, B.A. (MADRAS), M.A. (HARVARD) 
B.D. (HARTFORD) 

J. S. WELLES. FELLOW OF HA17FOIU> THEOLOGICAL SEMINARY 



Co , i :Wi 

I 5 f ~~T . M ^ r> Y _- f t? r.T 
TORONTO. ONTAHIQ. CANADA 



JI3eto gorft 
THE MACMILLAN COMPANY 

1922 
All rights reserved. 



PRINTED IN THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA 



COPYRIGHT, 1921. 
By THE MACMILLAN COMPANY 

SlT UP AND ELECTROTYPED, PUBLISHED APRIL, 1921. 



FERRIS 

PRINTING COMPANY 
NEW YORK CITY 



CONTENTS 

PAGE 

INTRODUCTION vii 

I THE MAN AND His MAKING 3 

In Quest of Peace Convert and Sadhu The 
Achievement of Maturiiy World Fame. 

II A MYSTIC S CREED 40 

A Christocentric Mysticism The Trinity: a 
Vision The Incarnation The Atonement 
Mystical Union with Christ. 

III A MYSTIC S PEACE 56 

The Peace of God The Philosophy of the Cross 
The Dark Night of the Soul. 

IV A MYSTIC S WAY 67 

The Mystic and the Plain Man Renunciation 
and Active Service The Nature of Prayer The 
Necessity of Prayer Devotional Habits The Be 
ginner s Way. 

V ECSTASY AND VISION 86 

Esoteric Character Visions of the Jewish Seers- 
Heaven The Resurrection of the Body The Last 
Judgement Hell Other Visions The Nature of 
the Ecstatic State An Unique Phenomenon The 
Idea and its Symbol Divine Guidance The 
Authority of the Church The Dangers of Ecstasy. 



vi CONTENTS 

PAGE 

VI SUFFERING, SIN AND JUDGEMENT 124 

Karma Suffering Sin Repentance Judgement. 

VII THE HEART AND THE HEAD 141 

A Reaction against Intellectualism The Function 
of Intellect Vain Enquiry The Moral Obstacle- 
Knowledge of Christ. 

VIII NATURE AND THE BIBLE I 50 

The Book of Nature The Bible Miracles. 

IX TABLE TALK 166 

The Preacher Life and Hope Service Religion 
Providence The Hereafter. 

X AN INDIAN CHRISTIANITY .176 

Christianity and National Genius Philosophic 
Pantheism Yoga and Bhakti The Sadhu Ideal- 
Money Marriage The Christian) Sadhu and the 
Future. 



INDEX . .. >: ; - a a >:-> 259 



INTRODUCTION 

BETWEEN the Mystics of any past age and ourselves 
there is, quite apart from the problem of the mystic 
consciousness itself, a barrier of time and circumstance 
which no effort of the historic imagination cm com 
pletely penetrate. In this book we attempt a study of a 
Mystic, with the unique advantage that he is a contem 
porary of our own. 

He is also one of those Mystics who appeals to the pres 
ent age because it is precisely his consciousness of com 
munion with the Divine that impels him to a life of un 
selfish activity and the practical service of mankind. 

Sadhu Sundar Singh " the Sadhu" as he is popularly 
called lives in this twentieth century a life which, so 
far as external conditions are concerned, resembles that 
of St. Francis of Assisi. His inward experience recalls 
rather, in some ways, St. Paul, in others Mother Juliana, 
while in others it is individual to himself. If, however, 
we venture thus to speak of him and them together, it is 
not by way of asserting a comparison of greatness ; it is 
merely to indicate an identity of type. Whether Sundar 
Singh is a great man in the sense in which History em 
ploys that term, History alone can decide. In that 
sense no man can be pronounced great till his career is 
ended, nor even then by his own contemporaries. But 
while we do not suggest that the Sadhu is on the same 
plane with St. Francis or St. Paul, we feel that, from 
having known him, we understand them better. 

The Sadhu is no metaphysician, no scientist, no higher 
critic. Indeed his intellectual horizon is in many re 
spects nearer that of the New Testament writers than that 



Vll 



viii INTRODUCTION 

of the modern world but so also is his intuitive insight 
into moral and religious values. It is this directness and 
simplicity of spiritual perception which impresses upon 
all who have been in close contact with him the convic 
tion that he has a message not only to his own country 
men, but also to the West. 

The manner of his teaching, even more than its sub 
stance, has a peculiar freshness for a Western hearer, 
with its picturesque abundance of illustration and par 
able, often quaint but always apt, its unstudied spon 
taneity, its gleams of kindly humor. It is rendered 
doubly effective by an arresting appearance the impres 
sion of the turbaned head and saffron robe harmonizing 
in some subtle way with the deep tranquillity of a counte 
nance lighted up by loving kindness, and with a vivacity 
of expression, and occasionally of gesture, which some 
how seems not to conflict with, but to express, the Peace 
of God within. 

For the cold printed page to reproduce the atmosphere 
diffused by such a personality, or even to transmit to 
others the creative impression of his speech is impossible. 
It is the more so, since we have his utterances, not in his 
native tongue in which he is a master of expression, 
but in English, a language of whose subtleties he has 
but small command, so that he has at times to express in 
the phraseology of conventional religion thoughts which 
to him are fresh and living. Face to face with him in 
private this hardly counts, hearing him on a platform it 
matters more, but where there is nothing but the bare 
written word it does materially impair the rich impres 
sion of the message and the man. Nevertheless, though 
the printed page cannot do full justice to the Sadhu, it 
can do something. The many who have seen him once, 



INTRODUCTION ix 

and have felt that there was much more beyond which 
they would gladly apprehend, will read into it the mem 
ory of his manner and his presence; and even those to 
whom he is only known by hearsay may yet, we hope, find 
something of solid value. At any rate the attempt ought 
to be made to secure that the Sadhu s visit to the West 
should leave behind it something more definite, and per 
haps more permanent, than the personal impressions 
of a fortunate minority and the passing interest of the 
crowd. 

The Sadhu s mind is an overflowing reservoir of anec 
dote, illustration, epigram and parable, but he never 
makes the slightest effort to avoid repetition; in fact 
he appears to delight in it. "We do not," he says, "re 
fuse to give bread to hungry people because we have 
already given bread to others." Hence we have con 
stantly found the same material occurring in more than 
one of the written or printed authorities we have used. 
"My mouth," he says, "has no copyright"; and many 
sayings that we had noted down from his own lips we 
afterwards discovered to be already in print. In most 
cases the versions differ extraordinarily little, but we 
have always felt free to correct or supplement one version 
by another at our discretion; and, seeing that English 
is not the Sadhu s native tongue, we have not infre 
quently ventured on emendations of a purely verbal char 
acter. 

It was only when we had begun to collect together 
scattered sayings on the same topics, that we ourselves 
realized the extent to which his teaching is a complete 
theology in picture form, making with his way of life 
and his mystic experience an organic whole. And if 



x INTRODUCTION 

this book has any merit beyond fidelity to fact, it largely 
consists in the attempt to seize and bring out this inner 
unity and coherence. This has necessarily involved 
much rearrangement of materials and the bringing to 
gether into the same context, occasionally even into the 
same paragraph, of sayings originally spoken on dif 
ferent occasions or derived by us from different sources. 
We have thought it necessary to indicate in the text the 
exact source of our information only in the case of im 
portant or disputable facts. But wherever phrases like 
"we asked" or "he told us" occur they imply that at 
least one of the authors was present when the Sadhu 
made the particular statement; assertions are, however, 
often made on this same evidence in contexts where the 
insertion of the personal pronoun would have seemed in 
trusive. 

Mr. A. J. Appasamy, who collaborates with me in 
this study, is a member of my own College, who after 
graduating in India and spending four years in post 
graduate study in the United States of America is now 
engaged in research upon the relation of the Mysticism of 
St. John to that of the Hindu Bhakti Poets. During 
the week which the Sadhu spent in Oxford last February, 
he was in continual contact with him. Subsequently, 
when we had conceived and had commended to the Sadhu 
the idea that a permanent record of his teaching might 
be of real value towards following up and consolidating 
the results of his visit to England, Mr. Appasamy lived! 
with the Sadhu for about a fortnight in London and 
Paris, asking questions and making notes, and was pres 
ent at the interviews which he had with various distin 
guished persons. One such interview was of particular 
value for our purpose. Baron von Hiigel, who had read 



INTRODUCTION xi 

Mrs. Parker s account of the Sadhu, put to him a num 
ber of carefully prepared questions suggested by his un 
rivaled knowledge of the literature of Mysticism ; and he 
was so good as to write us a memorandum on certain 
aspects of the Sadhu s philosophy and religion, and sub 
sequently to discuss them with us by word of mouth. 

I myself had personal talks with the Sadhu and heard 
him address meetings both in Oxford and in London ; and 
last May, just before leaving for America, he came again 
to Oxford and stayed with me in College for the express 
purpose of discussing the book. For the greater part of 
a couple of days he answered our questions and poured 
out his ideas, providing us with much material, includ 
ing an account of his mystical experiences, which, to the 
best of our belief, has never been made public before. 

In order to secure unity of style and presentation, it 
was arranged that the final rewriting of the book should 
be in my hands. But at every stage, including even the 
final revision of the proofs, my collaborator and I have 
worked in the closest harmony and co-operation, and it is 
impossible to say of the book as a whole that it is any 
more the work of the one than of the other; it is in 
every sense a joint production. 

It was the Sadhu s desire that any net profit that 
might accrue to the authors from this book should be 
devoted to some religious purpose. I asked him to name 
one, but he preferred to leave the choice to me. My col 
laborator and I have agreed that it would be most ap 
propriately assigned to the National Missionary Society 
of India. 

The most considerable account of the Sadhu that has 
so far appeared is Sadhu Sundar Singh, by Mrs. Parker, 



xii INTRODUCTION 

of the London Mission, Trivandram, Travancore, pub 
lished by the Christian Literature Society of India, who 
have courteously assented to our reproducing the portrait 
which forms our frontispiece. By the author s kind per 
mission we have to some extent drawn upon this valu 
able source of information. But, partly because her 
book has been already so widely circulated both in Eng 
land and America, and partly because our purpose is not 
primarily biographical, we have, so far as possible, de 
liberately avoided covering the same ground. 

Next to the notes taken of what we heard from the 
Sadhu s own lips, our main authorities for his teaching 
have been three. First, the full shorthand reports of six 
of his addresses in this country, generously put at our 
disposal by the National Council of the Y. M. C. A., 
through the kind intervention of Mr. W. Hindle not 
the only service for which we owe him gratitude. Sec 
ondly, a collection of the Sadhu s discourses published by 
the National Missionary Society of India, Madras, in the 
Tamil language the native tongue of Mr. Appasamy. 
The Sadhu informed us that these were dictated by him 
in Hindustani, during a period of comparative leisure, to 
a friend whom he relied on as expert in the interpretation 
of his thought. Thirdly, Seven Addresses, delivered in 
Ceylon and published under that title by the Kandy 
United Christian Mission. We have also incorporated 
some valuable matter which appeared in The Bible in the 
World and in The Foreign Field, June, 1920. Some oc 
casional quotations from writings by Mr. A. Zahir, of 
St. John s College, Agra, a friend and devoted admirer 
of the Sadhu, and by Mr. A. E. Stokes, at one time his 
fellow-worker, are acknowledged where they occur in the 
text. We desire here to express our hearty thanks to 



INTRODUCTION xiii 

those editors and publishers who have most generously 
allowed us an unrestricted liberty in making use of copy 
right material. 

It has been our good fortune that several of our Indian 
friends now in England happen to have come into close 
personal contact with the Sadhu at different periods of 
his life from school-days onward. These, as well as 
various English friends who had known him in India 
and elsewhere, have given us the greatest assistance in 
the way of answering questions, suggesting points of 
view, or in reading the whole or portions of the book in 
manuscript or in proof. But when it is impossible to 
name all it would be invidious to mention any. Finally, 
we gratefully record our obligation to Mrs. White, of 
Sherborne, for the immense labor which she has be 
stowed upon the correction of the proofs, and to Mr. R. 
D. Richardson, of Hertford College, Oxford, who has 
compiled the Index. 

That this book should be a true interpretation of his 
message has, we know from his letters, been the Sadhu s 
constant prayer. The book is finished ; but we are filled 
with a sense of its inadequacy to portray the man. Com 
ing from the presence of Sundar Singh, men forget them 
selves, they forget him but they think of Christ. 

B. II. S. 

QUEEN S COLLEGE, OXFOBD, 
Feb. 1, 1921. 



SADHU SUNDAR SINGH 



THE MAN AND HIS MAKING 

THE career of Sundar Singh, up to his return to India 
from the West in September, 1920, falls into four periods 
clearly defined. The first of which the latter part is 
marked by an ever more and more anxious quest for 
Peace ends in his sixteenth year with his conversior 
to Christianity. The second, characterized by his adop 
tion, as a Christian, of the life of a Hindu "holy man" 
or Sadhu 1 comprises seven years of varied experience 
and inward growth. At the age of twenty-three he was 
impelled to attempt, in imitation of our Lord, a Fast of 
forty days. The forty days were apparently not com 
pleted, but from the attempt he himself dates a great 
accession of spiritual strength and insight. This marks 
the Fast as the beginning of a third period in his life 
a period of, relatively speaking, spiritual maturity, as 
well as of adventurous labors and hairbreadth escapes. 
Till the end of 1917 his activities were confined to 
Northern India and Tibet. Early in 1918 a visit to 
South India and Ceylon opened a fourth period of 
preaching tours involving world-wide travel. The first 

i The word is pronounced as if spelled Sadhoo, with accent on 
first syllable. Its significance is explained on p. 11. 

3 



4 SADHU SUNDAR SINGH 

of these brought him to Burma, the Straits Settlements, 
China and Japan; the second to Europe, America and 
Australia. During these three years he has exchanged 
the hardships and persecutions, which were the fiery 
trial of his earlier life, for the more perilous ordeal 
which tests the man who in his life-time is saluted and 
that not undeservedly as an Apostle and a Saint. 

IN QUEST OP PEACE 
1889-1904 

Born of wealthy parents, September 3, 1889, at Ram- 
pur, in the state of Patiala in North India, the youngest 
son of his father, Sundar was brought up in the midst 
of luxury. The early experience of a comfortable home 
is one to which he frequently alludes in his addresses; 
contrasting its soft ease, made worthless by spiritual 
disquiet, with the hardships of a sadhu s life, rich in the 
happiness of inward joy and peace. His parents were 
Sikhs by race, but in religious thought and practice they 
seem to have been almost as much Hindus, frequenting 
the places of worship, reading the sacred books and 
keeping in close contact with the teachers of both re 
ligions. Alluding to this period of his life, with a play 
ing upon words which is characteristic of his speech, 
both in English and still more in his native tongue, 
Sundar Singh says, "I was not a Sikh, but a seeker-after 
Truth. " 

It was his mother, above all, who fostered and guided 
his unique religious bent. Many have marked the love 
that beams on his face whenever he speaks of her. His 
addresses to mothers hold forth lofty ideas of the pos 
sibilities of a mother s influence. A minister once sug- 



THE MAN AND HIS MAKING 5 

gested, "It would add very much to your effectiveness 
if you would take a course in a theological college." "I 
have been," replied the Sadhu, "to the best theological 
college in the world." "Is that so?" rejoined the min 
ister, surprised. "The mother s bosom," said the 
Sadhu, "is the best theological college in the world." 
In speaking of her to the Archbishop of Canterbury, he 
said : "If I do not see my mother in heaven, I shall ask 
God to send me to hell so that I may be with her." 
His mother constantly held before him the life of a sadhu 
as the ideal to follow when he grew up, bidding him 
abandon the things of the world and strive to obtain 
that inner Peace, alone permanent and permanently 
satisfying, the quest for which has been immemorial in 
Indian religion. She died when he was fourteen, and 
we may surmise that the sense of loss helped to accentu 
ate the ardor of his quest during the next two years. 1 

The desire to obtain this Peace which she had planted 
in his heart grew stronger; but the means for obtaining 
it which she had pointed out completely failed him. By 
the age of seven he knew by heart most of the Bhavagad 
Gita, by common consent the most sublime of the Hindu 
Scriptures. By sixteen he had read the Granth of the 
Sikhs, the Muhammadan Quran, and a number 2 of the 
Hindu Upanishads a remarkable achievement even if 
we recollect that the Indian matures considerably earlier 
than the Anglo-Saxon. But it was all in vain. His 
mother had taken him to priests and sadhus who might 
point out to him sacred texts which would show him the 

1 The reflections on the death of dear ones seem to be based on 
personal experionce. 

2 He is uncertain how many; he thinks fifty -two. The Quran 
would be read in Urdu. 



6 SADHU SUNDAR SINGH 

way ; and for some time, under the direction of a Hindu 
sadhu, he practiced a form of Yoga one of the methods, 
much esteemed among Hindus, of seeking identification 
with the Supreme Spirit, and the resultant peace and 
illumination, by concentration leading up to a state of 
trance but with no avail. With the Bible he first be 
came acquainted at the Presbyterian Mission School in 
his village, but it repelled him as being utterly sub 
versive of the religion of his fathers and offensive to the 
proud traditions of his Sikh blood. He little thought 
that from this unlikely source he would ultimately gain 
the Peace he sought. 

CONVERT AND SADHU 
1904-1912 

The story of his conversion, which occurred on Decem 
ber 18, 1904, is best given in his own words, quoted from 
one of the Kandy addresses. "Preachers and Christians 
in general had often come to me and I used to resist them 
and persecute them. When I was out in any town I got 
people to throw stones at Christian preachers. I would 
tear up the Bible and burn it when I had a chance. In 
the presence of my father I cut up the Bible and other 
Christian books and put kerosene oil upon them and 
burnt them. I thought this was a false religion and 
tried all I could to destroy it. I was faithful to my own 
religion, but I could not get any satisfaction or peace, 
though I performed all the ceremonies and rites of that 
religion. So I thought of leaving it all and committing 
suicide. Three days after I had burnt the Bible, I woke 
up about three o clock in the morning, had my usual 
bath, and prayed, God, if there is a God, wilt thou 



THE MAN AND HIS MAKING 7 

show me the right way or I will kill myself. My inten 
tion was that, if I got no satisfaction, I would place my 
head upon the railway line when the 5 o clock train 
passed by and kill myself. If I got no satisfaction in 
this life, I thought I would get it in the next. I was 
praying and praying but got no answer; and I prayed 
for half an hour longer hoping to get peace. At 4.30 
A.M. I saw something of which I had no idea at all pre 
viously. In the room where I was praying I saw a 
great light. I thought the place was on fire. I looked 
round, but could find nothing. Then the thought came 
to me that this might be an answer that God had sent 
me. Then as I prayed and looked into the light, I saw 
the form of the Lord Jesus Christ. It had such an ap 
pearance of glory and love. If it had been some Hindu 
incarnation I would have prostrated myself before it. 
But it was the Lord Jesus Christ whom I had been in 
sulting a few days before. I felt that a vision like this 
could not come out of my own imagination. I heard a 
voice saying in Hindustani, How long will you perse 
cute me? I have come to save you; you were praying 
to know the right way. Why do you not take it? The 
thought then came to me, Jesus Christ is not dead but 
living and it must be He Himself. So I fell at His 
feet and got this wonderful Peace which I could not get 
anywhere else. This is the joy I was wishing to get. 
This was heaven itself. When I got up, the vision had 
all disappeared ; but although the vision disappeared the 
Peace and Joy have remained with me ever since. I 
went off and told my father that I had become a Chris 
tian. He told me, Go and lie down and sleep ; why, only 
the day before yesterday you burnt the Bible ; and you 
say you are a Christian now. I said, Well, I have 



8 SADHTJ SUNDAR SINGH 

discovered now that Jesus Christ is alive and have de 
termined to be His follower. To-day I am His disciple 
and I am going to serve Him. " 

The suggestion has apparently been made to him that 
the vision was nothing but a dream or a creation of his 
own imagination ; or, again, that it was similar to visions 
seen by Hindu Yogis in that trance state which Sundar 
is himself inclined to ascribe to self-hypnotism. In re 
ply Sundar emphasizes the two facts that before com 
mencing his prayer he had taken a cold bath that winter 
morning and so could not have been dreaming and that 
the appearance of Christ was entirely unexpected. But 
he attaches most importance to the consideration that 
the effect of the vision has been so revolutionary and 
so permanent; the Peace which rushed into his soul on 
that occasion has never abandoned him all these fourteen 
years, and in moments of exceptional stress or persecu 
tion only becomes the more profound. The one infer 
ence he can draw from this is that some new power from 
outside entered into his life from that moment and that 
it was Christ Himself who appeared and spoke to him. 
He also thinks that at that time he did not know the 
story of St. Paul s conversion; though, of course, on a 
point of that kind the human memory cannot be im 
plicitly relied on. But he acknowledges, and is indeed 
always anxious to emphasize, the part played by the 
Bible in leading up to his conversion. 1 In speaking to 
us of visions of Christ seen, and words heard, by him 
on subsequent occasions when in a state of Ecstasy, he 
clearly and emphatically distinguished the vision at his 
conversion when he saw Christ with his bodily eyes and 
iCf. p. 197. 



THE MAN AND HIS MAKING 9 

heard him "with these ears" from the later visions when 
he saw and heard with "spiritual" sight and hearing. 

Believing as we do that the spirit of scientific inquiry 
is in no respect opposed to the spirit of Religion, but 
that they are two separate ways by which man may at 
tain to different aspects of the one Truth, we should our 
selves maintain that the Divine power works in and 
through the laws of psychology, no less than in and 
through the other laws of Nature. 1 Hence we have no 
hesitation in affirming our conviction that the Sadhu did 
in this vision receive a real and definite Divine call. But 
we do not on that account feel any inclination to deny 
that the form in which it was received was conditioned 
by psychological laws. At any rate, there is no doubt 
that this vision was the turning-point of his life. Hence 
forth the discordant elements which had been striving 
within him for mastery were composed into a new har 
mony, a new equilibrium was set up, a new scale of 
values was established, and from that hour he became 
a new man. 

His father, his uncle, his elder brother his mother, 
we remember, was already dead made every effort to 
dissuade the boy from becoming a Christian. Promises 
of the wealth and social position that would be his if he 
remained in the ancestral religion, doleful reminders of 
the shame and dishonor that would fall upon the family 
should he become a Christian, failed to move him from 
his purpose. When love and reason failed, persecution 
was tried. For nine months indignities and humiliations 
were heaped upon him. After that, when an appeal by a 
friendly Kaja to his honor and pride of race left his 
i Cf. The Spirit, ed. B. H. Streeter, Essay II. (Macmillan). 



10 SADHU SUNDAR SINGH 

resolution still unbroken, he was finally disowned and 
ordered to depart forever. He left his home with food 
in which poison had been mingled. It was better that 
he should die than continue to disgrace the family. 

"I remember the night when I was driven out of my 
home the first night. When I came to know my Savior 
I told my father and my brother and my other relations. 
At first they did not take much notice; but afterwards 
they thought that it was a great dishonor that I should 
become a Christian, and so I was driven out of my home. 
The first night I had to spend, in cold weather, under a 
tree. I had had no such experience. I was not used to 
living in such a place without a shelter. I began to 
think : Yesterday and before that I used to live in the 
midst of luxury at my home; but now I am shivering 
here, and hungry and thirsty and without shelter, with 
no warm clothes and no food. I had to spend the whole 
night under the tree. But I remember the wonderful 
joy and peace in my heart, the presence of my Savior. 
I held my New Testament in my hand. I remember that 
night as my first night in heaven. I remember the won 
derful joy that made me compare that time with the time 
when I was living in a luxurious home. In the midst 
of luxuries and comfort I could not find peace in my 
heart. The presence of the Savior changed the suffer 
ing into peace. Ever since then I have felt the pres 
ence of the Savior. * 

He was baptized at Simla, in the Church of England, 
on September 3, 1905. 

In deciding as a Christian to don the habit and take 
up the way of life of a Hindu holy man, Sundar was 
putting into practice a striking and creative idea. A 

i The Bille in the World, June, 1920. 



THE MAN AND HIS MAKING 11 

sadhu, a sannyasi, or a fakir the distinction, between 
these we need not here elaborate owns nothing on earth 
but the saffron robe which is the mark tff his "profes 
sion." He devotes himsdf entirely to the particular 
type of the religious life he has adopted, which varies 
with the individual and may consist predominantly either 
in ascetic practices, in solitary meditation and mystic 
trance, or, more rarely, in preaching. A "holy man" 
is treated with profound respect. Men of the highest 
place do him reverence. Superstition invests him with 
mysterious powers. To supply him with a meal or a 
night s lodging is an act of religious merit a fact which 
makes the "profession" a possible one to men of high 
ideals and holy life, an attractive one to many whose 
ideals and whose lives are the reverse of high or holy. 
But, in spite of the delinquencies of the many, the con 
spicuous asceticism of the few has kept alive its pres 
tige; and a true Sannyasi is saluted with divine and 
royal titles like Swami, Mahatma, Maharaja. 

The adoption by a convert to Christianity of the role 
of a sadhu promised one great advantage at the price of 
one great difficulty. The advantage lay in the oppor 
tunity of presenting the new religion in a specially and 
characteristically Hindu form. The difficulty arose 
from the fact that the respect and veneration tradition 
ally accorded to the person and life of a sadhu was liable 
to be turned into resentment and persecution once it was 
realized that it was Christianity which this particular 
sadhu was concerned to preach. During the next seven 
years Sundar was to experience acutely both the diffi 
culties and the advantages of the choice he made wan 
dering from place to place, possessing nothing but his 
robe, his blanket, and a copy of the New Testament, liv- 



12 SADHU SUNDAE SINGH 

ing on food offered him by hearers grateful or compas 
sionate, or, when that was not forthcoming, on roots or 
leaves, accepting hospitality when offered or, failing that, 
sleeping in caves or under trees. 

The population of India, it should be remembered, 
and of the adjoining states lives mainly in villages. 
Hence it is in the villages, where the advent of a new 
comer requires no advertisement to collect an audience, 
that the Sadhu has until quite recently done his main 
preaching work. His first journey covered the Punjab 
his own province, Kashmir, Baluchistan and Afghani 
stan. He ended up with a short rest at a village named 
Kotgarh, in the Himalayas, some 6000 feet above sea- 
level and 55 miles from Simla. This village has ever 
since been a kind of headquarters or, at least, a point of 
beginning and ending for his preaching tours. 

Here towards the end of 1906 Sundar came into con 
tact with Mr. S. E. Stokes, a wealthy American gentle 
man who, fascinated by the character and ideals of St. 
Francis of Assisi, had renounced all earthly possessions 
and was endeavoring to found a brotherhood for mis 
sionary work in India on the model of the early Fran 
ciscans. "Some weeks after I had changed my life," 
writes Mr. Stokes, "an Indian Christian was moved to 
join me. He was a convert from the Sikhs and had been 
traveling about the country as a Christian sadhu (holy 
man) for more than a year. . . . When my work took 
me to the plains, he remained in charge of our interests 
up in the mountains and labored so faithfully and with 
such effect that all were astonished. His work has been 
far better than my own, and although he is scarcely more 
than a boy he has suffered hunger, cold, sickness and 



THE MAN AND HIS MAKING 13 

even imprisonment for his Master. 1 Besides preach 
ing in the villages the two worked together in the Leper 
Asylum at Sabathu and in a plague camp near Lahore. 
Sundar himself says that he and Stokes actually lived 
together only for three months, though they worked in 
cooperation for. two years. From Stokes naturally he 
heard much about St. Francis. 

The Sadhu always speaks of St. Francis with the ut 
most veneration; and to have thus, at the beginning of 
his career, been enabled to admire a spiritual genius 
whose aims and manner of life were so closely akin to 
his own ideal of a "Christian sadhu" cannot but have 
been both an inspiration and an abiding influence. At 
the same time we must rule out the idea of any conscious 
imitation of St. Francis. "Be yourself, do not copy 
others" is a fundamental principle with the Sadhu, both 
in his own life and in his advice to others. Indeed, 
while speaking with considerable admiration of the char 
acter and work of Mr. Stokes, he told us that he thought 
that his friend had made a mistake in attempting too 
slavishly to imitate the Franciscan model, and that he 
had declined himself to become a full member of the new 
brotherhood. 

In regard to one very important matter he has always 
hitherto refused to imitate St. Francis. "St. Francis 
felt that it was God s will that he should start a new 
Order: but I do not feel it is God s will for me." 
Wisely or unwisely, he has so far given small encourage 
ment to those who have urged him to form an Order of 
Christian sadhus. He thinks that such Orders generally 

i S. E. Stokes, The Love of God, p. 7 (Longmans). Mr. Stokes 
gave up the Franciscan manner of life after about five years. 



14 SADHTJ SUNDAR SINGH 

become corrupt after the lifetime of the Founder, and 
also that religious organizations tend to make too much 
of human help. "On the mountains torrents flow right 
along, cutting their own courses. But on the plains ca 
nals have to be dug out painfully by men so that the 
water might flow. So among those who live on the 
heights with God, the Holy Spirit makes its way through 
of its own accord, whereas those who devote little time 
to prayer and communion with God have to organize 
painfully. 

This decision of the Sadhu s, and his complete lack 
of interest in organization and probably of any capac 
ity for it differentiates him at once from St. Francis 
and St. Paul, the two supreme Missionary Mystics, with 
each of whom he has so many other points of contact. 
The Sadhu has felt deep solicitude for individuals among 
his "spiritual god-children," as he calls them, but "the 
care of all the churches," or the threatened contumacy 
of a General Chapter he has not experienced. He has 
borne the cross in many ways but he has never had to 
agonize or fight lest some beloved community should re 
lapse to legalism, collapse in schism, or apostatize from 
the primitive simplicity of the Rule. And, perhaps, 
just for this reason, there are subtle ways in which his 
vision has in some directions not penetrated quite so 
deep as that of Paul or Francis. 

In 1908 the Sadhu took his first journey into Tibet. 
And from that time on he has made that country his 
principal field of work. He was drawn to Tibet, partly 
by the fact that little or no Christian preaching has been 
done hitherto there being only a few Missionaries, 
chiefly Moravians, on the border, and partly because 
he regards the conversion of Tibet as a duty preemi- 



THE MAN AND HIS MAKING 15 

nently incumbent on the missionary effort of the Indian 
Church. The religion of Tibet is a debased form of 
Buddhism; and the fact that the priests, or Lamas, as 
they are called, in virtue of their priestly office, occupy 
also all positions of civil authority naturally makes them 
bitter opponents of religious innovation. But the at 
traction for the Sadhu of this particular field has been 
undoubtedly strengthened by the exceptional hardships 
which the work entails. Suffering amidst the cold and 
snow, the certainty of persecution and the possibility 
of martyrdom, appeal to that passion in him for com 
panionship in the sufferings of Christ which is a dom 
inant quality in his life and which has led many mis 
takenly, as we shall see later to style him an Ascetic. 
Since 1908 his plan has been to spend half the year or 
rather more in Tibet and during the winter months to 
work in India. He once tried preaching in Tibet in 
winter, but a drift of snow twelve feet deep kept him 
seventeen days in one house, and convinced him that 
the life of an itinerant preacher was impossible there 
at that season. 

The years 1909 and 1910 were spent at St. John s 
Divinity College, Lahore. A fellow-student at the Col 
lege recalls how there also he lived the life of a sadhu. 
Though he never complained and rarely criticized, he 
was undoubtedly out of harmony with the interests and 
outlook of the average student. He was also sincerely 
distressed at the extent to which Christians in general 
fell short of the ideals of their profession a judgment 
which must be interpreted in the light of the Sadhu s 
own exalted practice, and not be taken as a special 
reflection on the Christians of Lahore. The curriculum 
of studies also, however suited to an ordinary student, 



16 SADHU SUNDAE, SINGH 

could hardly have appealed to one of his temperament 
and experience; and it would seem that to this period 
of his life must be assigned the maturing of the con 
viction that religious knowledge of the highest kind is 
acquired, not by intellectual study, but by direct con 
tact with Christ, which expresses itself in his favorite 
doctrine that Religion is a matter, not of the head, but 
of the heart. 

It was apparently at Lahore that he first came across 
the Imitation of Christ, a book which he has read fre 
quently since and which has left clear traces on his 
1 Philosophy of the Cross." The Bible and the Book 
of Nature are, he says, the only books which he still regu 
larly reads. And indeed they are the only books he 
has always by him. But occasionally when staying with 
friends he will take up other books, especially if he 
finds something by or about one of the Mystics. He 
has read a life of St. Francis by whom or when he 
could not remember, that is the kind of detail in which 
he takes no interest. At some time he has dipped into 
Al-Ghazzali and other Sufi Mystics. He has also read 
in this way something of Boehme, St. Theresa, St. John 
of the Cross, and a very little of Swedenborg and Ma 
dame Guyon. We fancy that he only made the acquaint 
ance of these last five in comparatively recent years, 
but could learn nothing definite from him about dates. 

While at college he began to learn to play the Sitar, 
an Indian stringed instrument, but he soon gave it up, 
because it took up too much time and because, as a 
sadhu, it would be difficult to carry it about with him. 
So he gave it to a friend, asking him to make the best 
use of it for the glory of God. Music affected him very 
differently in different moods; when his mind was bur- 



THE MAN AND HIS MAKING 17 

dened with the largeness of tasks ahead, it tended to 
be depressing. At supreme moments he sometimes breaks 
Out with hymns of thanksgiving, but his general attitude 
he humorously expresses thus: "I would rather not 
sing: I am afraid I might only make a noise." 

Shortly after this he came to an important decision. 
He had been recommended for Deacon s Orders, and 
had been already given a license to preach. But when 
he realized that taking Holy Orders in the Church of 
England would hamper his freedom of action in regard 
to Christians of other denominations and would im 
pose restrictions and limitations on his sphere of Christ 
ian work, he decided not to proceed to the Diaconate 
and at the same time returned his license to Bishop 
Lefroy, at that time Bishop o-f Lahore. The Bishop, 
recognizing the call of the Sadhu for work of a special 
character and a wider sphere, entirely acquiesced in 
the wisdom of the step, and continued to the end of his 
days to take a deep and fatherly interest in him and in 
his work. 

When the Sadhu was in Oxford we inquired his exact 
motive in giving up his license. "I was told," he re 
plied, "that if ordained in the Church of England I 
could not preach in other churches, though I could speak 
in the schools and colleges of other Christians." This 
remark led on to a conversation on the subject of Chris 
tian unity. We noted the following characteristically 
epigrammatic remarks: "If Christians cannot live to 
gether happily here in this short life, how will they 
live together in Eternity?" "The children of God are 
very dear but very queer. They are very nice but very 
narrow/ "I told the Archbishop of Canterbury that 
just as there are high caste and low caste in India, 



18 SADHU SUNDAR SINGH 

so there are high Church and low Church in the Church 
of England: Christ Himself would not have made such 
differences." Speaking further of his interview with 
the Archbishop at Lambeth, "I told him frankly." he 
said, "that I was speaking in Anglican Churches and 
that I had also accepted an invitation from Dr. J. H. 
Jowett to speak in Westminster Chapel and another 
invitation to speak in the Metropolitan Tabernacle. 
That is quite all right for you/ said the Archbishop 
with a smile." But though quietly insisting on com 
plete freedom of action for himself, the Sadhu is in no 
sense hostile to ecclesiastical authority as such. Before 
leaving the Archbishop, responding to a suggestion from 
a High Church friend who accompanied him, he de 
voutly kneeled before him to receive his blessing. The 
Archbishop expressed an anxiety to meet him again, 
and, as this could not be arranged, was present on the 
platform at a meeting of London clergy, presided over 
by the Bishop of London, at which the Sadhu spoke. 

Three anecdotes will suffice just to suggest the " atmos 
phere," so to speak, of the life of a Christian sadhu 
unattached to any religious organization, which from 
now on he finally adopted. The first we heard from his 
own lips in a drawing-room in Paris. 

One day while journeying towards a certain village, 
he caught sight of two men in front of him, one of whom 
suddenly disappeared. A little further on he overtook 
the remaining man who, pointing to a figure on the 
ground covered with a sheet, told the Sadhu that this 
was his friend who had died by the way, I am a stranger 
here; I pray you, help me with money for his burial." 
Sundar had only two pice which had been given him 
for the toll bar of a bridge he was to cross, and his 



THE MAN AND HIS MAKING 19 

blanket, but these he gave to the man and passed on. 
He had not gone far when the man came running after 
him, fell at his feet and sobbed out, "My companion is 
really dead." The Sadhu did not understand, until he 
explained that it was their practice to take it in turns 
to prey on travelers by pretending that one of them was 
dead. This they had done for years ; but that day, when 
the man went back to call his friend, there was no re 
sponse and on lifting the cloth he was horror-stricken 
to find him actually dead. "I am very glad," he 
added naively, that it was not my turn to play the 
dead man to-day." The wretched man, convinced that 
here was some great saint whom they had robbed of all 
he had, and thus merited the displeasure of the gods, 
implored forgiveness of the Sadhu. Then Sundar spoke 
to him of Christ and how from Him he might obtain 
forgiveness. Make me your disciple," said the man. 
"How can I make you my disciple when I myself am 
only a disciple?" replied the Sadhu. 1 He allowed the 
man, however, to accompany him in his wanderings for 
a while. Later on he sent him to a mission station near 
Garhwal, where in due time he was baptized. 

A second story we quote from Mrs. Parker s sketch. 

"At a village in the district of Thoria the people be 
haved so badly to him that his nights were always spent 
in the jungle as long as he was working amongst them. 
On a particularly dark night, after a discouragingly hard 
day, the Sadhu found a cave where he spread his blanket 
and spent the night. When daylight came it revealed 
a large leopard still asleep close to him. The sight 
almost paralyzed him with fear, but once outside the 

i We are not quite certain whether this reply was made on 
this or on some other occasion. 



20 SADHTJ SUNDAR SINGH 

cave he could only reflect upon the great providence of 
God that had preserved him while he slept. Never to 
this day, he says, has any wild animal done me 
harm ." 1 

Our authority for the story that follows is a signed 
letter to the North Indian Christian weekly, the Nur 
Afshan, quoted by Mr. Zahir. 2 The writer, an Indian 
gentleman in the Forest Department of the Civil Service, 
tells how one day, when descending a mountain, he met 
a sadhu going up. Curiosity prompted him to watch 
what would happen, so instead of joining him for a 
talk, as he at first thought of doing, he waited. And this 
was what he saw. When the Sadhu reached a village 
he sat down upon a log, and, wiping the perspiration 
from his face, commenced singing a Christian hymn. 
Soon a crowd gathered, but when it was found that the 
love of Christ was the theme, many of the people became 
angry including the writer of the letter, who was a 
keen member of the Arya Samaj. 3 One man jumped 
up and dealt the Sadhu a blow that knocked him off 
his seat, cutting his cheek and hand badly. Without a 
word Sundar rose, bound up his hand with his turban, 
and, the blood still running down his face, began to sing 
praises to God and to invoke His blessing on his perse- 

i Parker, p. 46. 

2 Zahir, A Lover of the Cross, p 14. 

3 The Arya Samaj is perhaps the most influential of the various 
modern reform movements in India. It is a kind of Protestant 
Reformation of Hinduism, its motto being "back to the Vedas" 
the primitive scriptures of India accompanied by the abolition 
of images in worship a,nd great stress on education. Much of its 
inspiration is derived from its claim to find in the most ancient 
elements of the national religion ideals sufficiently lofty to be 
an effective counterpoise to the growing attraction of Christianity. 



THE MAN AND HIS MAKING 21 

cutors. The man, Kripa Ram, who had thrown Sundar 
down, afterwards sought long and earnestly for him, in 
the hope that he might be baptized by "that wounded 
hand," but not finding him, he accepted baptism from 
a local missionary, whose name is given, but still hopes 
some day to see the Sadhu. The witness goes on to 
explain at length how the incident has completely revo 
lutionized his own attitude towards Christianity, and 
ends with a request to all readers of the paper to pray 
for him that he may be able (by baptism) to confess 
openly his faith in Christ. 

THE ACHIEVEMENT OF MATURITY 
1912-1918 

In spite of the dissuasions of friends, the Sadhu, in 
his twenty-third year, felt driven to essay a Fast of 
Forty Days in imitation of his Master. Choosing a 
shadowy place in the jungly country between Hardwar 
and Dehra Dun, and noting down in his New Testa 
ment the exact day on which he began his fast, he placed 
near him, as a means of reckoning time, a heap of forty 
stones, one of which he was to throw aside every day. 
During the early stages of the fast there was a feeling 
of intense burning in his stomach on account of lack of 
food, but this soon passed away. In the course of the 
fast he saw Christ, not, he says, as at his conversion, 
with his physical eyes, because they were now dim and 
could not see anything, but in a spiritual vision, with 
pierced hands, bleeding feet and radiant face. Through 
out the whole period he felt in himself a remarkable 
enrichment of that sense of peace and happiness which 
has been his in a measure ever since he became a Chris- 



22 SADHU SUNDAR SINGH 

tian. Indeed so great was this sense that he had no 
temptation whatever to give up the fast. As his physical 
powers became enfeebled he saw, or thought he saw, a 
lion or other wild animal and heard it growl; the growl 
appeared to come from a distance, while the animal 
itself seemed to be near hearing apparently being more 
quickly affected than sight. Also he became too weak 
to throw aside the stones, with the result that he lost 
count of time, and is quite uncertain how many days 
he completed. Two wood-cutters found him in this con 
dition and carried him in his blanket to Rishi Kish and 
then to Dehra Dun. He remembers being at the time 
fully conscious of what was happening, though he had 
not the strength to speak. 

The Sadhu asserts that the Fast has left a permanent 
effect on his spiritual life. Certain doubts he had en 
tertained were finally cleared up. Previously he had 
sometimes wondered whether his sense of peace and joy 
might somehow be "a hidden power of his own life," 
welling up from within himself and not due to the Divine 
presence. But during the fast, when his bodily powers 
were nil or almost nil, the peace increased considerably 
and became much stronger. This has convinced him 
that this peace is a heaven-born peace and not the result 
of the natural operation of his human faculties. An 
other consequence of the fast was the conviction that 
the spirit was something different from the brain. He 
had been used to wonder what would become of his spirit 
after the decay of his body. But, since during the fast 
he found that, as his body became weaker, his spiritual 
faculties seemed to become more active and alert, he 
drew the inference that the spirit was something alto 
gether apart from the brain. "The brain was only the 



THE MAN AND HIS MAKING 23 

office where the Spirit worked. The brain is like an 
organ and the spirit like the organist that plays on it. 
Two or three of the notes may go wrong and may pro 
duce no music. That does not, however, imply the 
absence of the organist. 

The Fast, he told us, also left a permanent influence 
on his character. "Before I attempted the fast of forty 
days I was frequently assailed by temptations when 
you write your book you ought to write about my weak 
nesses also more especially, when I was tired, I used to 
get annoyed when people came to talk to me and ask 
questions. I still feel this difficulty, but nothing like so 
much as before the fast. Indeed I have been told by 
my friends that it is not noticeable but even if they 
are right it is still a weakness which I do not like to 
have in my life. It has caused me much difficulty and 
doubt but perhaps it is given me to keep me humble, like 
the thorn in the flesh, mentioned by St. Paul, which I 
sometimes think may have been the same thing. Or per 
haps it is partly the result of still living in the body, 
but I wish it were not so. Before the fast, I suffered 
also from other temptations. When suffering from hun 
ger and thirst, I used to complain, and to ask why the 
Lord did not provide. He had told me not to take any 
money with me. If I had taken money I could have 
bought what I needed. Since the fast, however, when 
overtaken by physical hardships, I say, It is my Father s 
will, perhaps I have done something to deserve it. 
Again before the fast, I was sometimes tempted to give 
up the life of a sadhu with its hardships, to go back to 
the luxury of my father s house, to get married and live 
in comfort. Could I not be a good Christian and live a 
life of communion with God there also? But then I 



24 SADHU SUNDAR SINGH 

saw that, though it was no sin for others to live in com 
fort and have money and home, God s call for me was 
different; and the gift of Ecstasy which he had given 
me is better than any home. Here I find wonderful joys 
which transcend all others. My real marriage is with 
Christ. I do not say that marriage is not good for oth 
ers. If I am already bound to Christ, how can I marry 
another ? 

We asked whether he had ever fasted since for shorter 
periods. "I have been forced to on the Himalayas," 
he replied. 

"Have you found this kind of fasting good for your 
spiritual life?" 

"I have found everything to be of use to me in my 
spiritual life, hunger and thirst, as well as other things." 

The Sadhu made it clear to us that he did not under 
take the Fast with a view to inflict upon himself suffer 
ing that, he declared, is a Hindu idea. 1 He does not 
intend to repeat it; nor does he think it desirable for 
every Christian to attempt it. But from various refer 
ences he made to it we drew the conclusion that it was 
a crisis in his spiritual development. We should have 
been tempted to describe it, in the technical language of 
mystical theology, as the transition from the Illumina 
tive" to the "Unitive" stage; but the very slight indi 
cations of anything corresponding to the intervening 
stage known as the "Dark night of the Soul" a point 
we shall return to in a later chapter would make the 
analogy misleading. Again, if it were legitimate to 
exclude the Epistles of the Captivity from a characteri- 

i It is only fair to point out that many Hindus regard fasting 
less as an ascetic discipline than as a means of enhancing spirit 
ual perception. 






THE MAN AND HIS MAKING 25 

zation of St. Paul, we might speak of the transition as 
being one from a Pauline to a Johannine type of expe 
rience. But this would be in some respects equally mis 
leading. The Sadhu s personality is sufficiently indi 
vidual to have marched towards maturity along individ 
ual lines. 

The period that followed the Fast is notable as one 
in which he endured an extremity of persecution, espe 
cially in Tibet; and also experienced some remarkable 
deliverances which he is himself inclined to regard as 
most probably due to angelic intervention. With some 
difficulty the Sadhu was induced, at a small gathering 
at the Pusey House, Oxford, to give his own version of 
one of the most striking of these incidents. We quote 
the story as given by Mrs. Parker, indicating in a foot 
note the only differences, not purely verbal, which we 
have noted between the two accounts. 

"At a town called Rasar he was arrested and arraigned 
before the head Lama on the charge of entering the 
country and preaching the Gospel of Christ. He was 
found guilty, and amidst a crowd of evil-disposed per 
sons he was led away to the place of execution. The 
two favorite forms of capital punishment are being sewn 
up in a wet yak skin and put out in the sun until death 
ends the torment, or being cast in the depths of a dry 
well, the top being firmly fastened over the head of the 
culprit. 1 The latter was chosen for the Sadhu. 

"Arrived at the place he was stripped of his clothes 

i These methods are an ingenious attempt to evade the Buddhist 
law which forbids a true disciple to kill. Similarly in Ceylon I 
was shown the precipice over which condemned criminals were 
pushed in the old kingdom of Kandy also a Buddhist state. 
B. H. 8. 



26 SADHU SUNDAE SINGH 

and cast into the dark depths of this ghastly charnel- 
house with such violence that his right arm was injured. 
Many others had gone down this same well before him 
never to return, and he alighted 011 a mass of human 
bones and rotting flesh. Any death seemed preferable 
to this. Wherever he laid his hands they met putrid 
flesh, while the odor almost poisoned him. In the words 
of his Savior he cried, Why hast Thou forsaken me? 

"Day passed into night, making no change in the 
darkness of this awful place and bringing no relief by 
sleep. Without food or even water the hours grew 
into days, and Sundar felt he could not last much longer. 
On the third night, just when he had been crying to God 
in prayer, he heard a grating sound overhead. Some 
one was opening the locked lid of his dismal prison. He 
heard the key turned and the rattle of the iron covering 
as it was drawn away. Then a voice reached him from 
the top of the well, telling him to take hold of the rope 
that was being let down for his rescue. As the rope 
reached him he grasped it with all his remaining strength, 
and was strongly but gently pulled up from the evil 
place into the fresh air above. 

"Arrived at the top of the well the lid was drawn over 
again and locked. When he looked round, his deliverer 
was nowhere to be seen, but the pain in his arm was gone 
and the clean air filled him with new life. All that the 
Sadhu felt able to do was to praise God for his wonder 
ful deliverance, and when morning came he struggled 
back to the town, where he rested in the serai until he 
was able to start preaching again. His return to the 
city and his old work was cause for a great commotion. 
The news was quickly taken to the Lama that the man 
they all thought dead was well and preaching again. 



THE MAN AND HIS MAKING 27 

"The Sadhu was again arrested and brought to the 
judgment seat of the Lama, and being questioned as 
to what had happened he told the story of his marvelous 
escape. The Lama was greatly angered, declaring that 
some one must have secured the key and gone to his 
rescue; but when search was made for the key and it 
was found on his own girdle, he was speechless with 
amazement and fear. He then ordered Sundar to leave 
the city and get away as far as possible, lest his powerful 
god should bring some untold disaster upon himself and 
his people." 1 

To this period belong two incidents which have ap 
pealed to the popular imagination. 

He discovered the existence of a Christian brother 
hood, said to number 24,000 members, commonly spoken 
of as the " Secret Sannyasi Mission." They appear to 
have, along with much that is genuinely Christian, some 
curious, but if we may judge from those which have 
been so far divulged not very interesting or valuable, 
secret doctrines and traditions. The Sadhu has con 
sorted with them, as with all sects of Christians, in a 
spirit of sympathy and brotherhood; but he has urged 
them to come out into the open. To his mind the cour 
age to confess Christ, and the duty to bear witness to 
Him, are of the essence of true Christianity. 

Later, in a cave 13,000 feet above sea-level on the 
Kailash range of the Himalayas, he found an ancient 

i Parker, pp. 64 ft". In speaking to us he said his arm was 
"struck with a club and almost broken" before he was thrown 
down; also the rope had a loop at the end, in which he put his 
foot, otherwise with his injured arm he could not have supported 
his weight. He also strongly emphasized the fact that, along 
with the horror, pain and despair, he felt all along an immense 
accession of inward joy and peace. 



28 SADHU SUNDAR SINGH 

rishi or hermit the "Maharishi of Kailash." The 
Rishi gave the Sadhu a marvelous account of his own 
immense age and wonderful powers and adventures and 
also imparted to him a series of visions of an apocalyptic 
character. The Sadhu was undoubtedly impressed by 
the personality and communications of this remarkable 
individual, revisited him more than once, and reported 
what he had seen and heard to many people in India. 
Unfortunately, but perhaps not unnaturally, popular 
interest, attracted by the more bizarre elements in the 
story, has concentrated on this picturesque hermit in a 
way that has latterly caused some embarrassment to the 
Sadhu, who is frequently bombarded with queries about 
him and his revelations. People have made too much 
of this incident in my life," he said to us in Oxford, 
"the Maharishi is a man of prayer and I have a great 
respect for him ; but my work is, not to preach the Rishi, 
but to preach Christ." 

We have spoken of this period in the life of the Sadhu 
as that in which he attained to spiritual maturity so 
far, that is to say, as such a thing can properly be said 
of any man still alive. It will be convenient, therefore, 
to call attention to the three outstanding features of his 
inward life his Philosophy of the Cross, if we may so 
name his characteristic orientation towards suffering; 
the ineffable Peace which belongs to his mystical expe 
rience of the presence of Christ; his times of Ecstasy. 
These, though all present, and indeed conspicuous, before 
the Fast, appear now to have taken on an enhanced in 
tensity and persistency. 

Already in the autumn of 1906, Mr. Stokes tells how, 
when he was tending the Sadhu during an attack of 
fever combined with acute pain in the stomach, he heard 



THE MAN AND HIS MAKING 29 

him murmur below his breath, "How sweet it is to suffer 
for His sake." The notion that suffering is a privilege, 
in so much as it is an opportunity of sharing an expe 
rience of Christ and helping on His work, is as funda 
mental to the Sadhu as it is to St. Paul. There is no 
doubt that he does literally rejoice in bearing pain for 
Christ s sake. For this reason many have described him 
as an Ascetic ; but, as we shall see later, he quite definitely 
repudiates the ascetic idea as ordinarily understood. 
Suffering, not for its own sake, but for the sake of Christ 
and His work, is what he loves. 

1 There is nothing like the Cross in all heaven or 
earth. It was through the Cross that God revealed His 
love for man. But for the Cross we should have re 
mained ignorant of the Love of our Heavenly Father. 
For this reason God desires that all His children should 
bear this heavy but sweet 1 burden of the Cross, be 
cause only through this will our love for God, and His 
love for us, be revealed to others." 

"We shall never get a second opportunity of bearing 
the Cross after our life on earth; for we shall never 
return to this life. So now is the time to bear the Cross 
joyfully: never again will an opportunity be given us 
of bearing this sweet burden." 2 

"My choice is to work in poverty and simplicity. If 
offered an archbishopric I should decline." 

In the second place, we must notice the unutterable 
Peace, "Heaven on earth," as he calls it, which flows 

1 The word "sweet" has not to the Sadhu the sentimental con 
notation it has in modern English; both thought and language 
are influenced by the Imitation. Paradoxical as it sounds to 
the ears of the average man the Sadhu finds an almost physical 
pleasure in suffering in Christ s service. 

2 A. Zahir, Soul-Stirring Messages, p. 6. 



30 SADHU SUNDAR SINGH 

from his abiding consciousness of the presence of Christ 
as solace, as companionship, and as power. It is this 
alone which enables him to translate his Philosophy of 
the Cross into the actualities of daily life. We shall at 
tempt a description and discussion of it in the chapter 
entitled "A Mystic s Peace." In the present context 
it will suffice to record his testimony that this experience 
has always risen to a peculiar intensity at times of acute 
suffering and persecution. He told us that he especially 
remembered the intensified Peace of the time he spent 
awaiting death in the dry well in Tibet, and on another 
occasion, which we shall speak of later, when he was 
compelled to spend a day and a night without food or 
water, his hands and feet in the stocks, and his naked 
body covered with leeches sucking his blood. 

Lastly, there are his times of Ecstasy, which since the 
Fast have been of more frequent occurrence and have 
seemed to him richer in content. In these, as he believes, 
he is wrapped up like St. Paul into the Third Heaven, 
when he sees and hears things unutterable. From these 
he derives, not only spiritual comfort and illumination, 
but also physical refreshment and renewed strength. 
They are described, and their nature and value is dis 
cussed in two later chapters of this book. 

"I believe," said the Sadhu, "that a life of prayer 
and the inner peace which goes with the Christian life 
enable one to a large extent to resist disease as well as to 
endure hunger and hardship. I was surprised when I 
heard that some of the Mystics suffered considerably in 
their physical health." 

In this connection the experience of Mr. Stokes is 
worth quoting. "Before going to India I was not 
strong: indeed it was considered questionable whether 



THE MAN AND HIS MAKING 31 

I could live in the Indian climate even under ordinary 
conditions. After going to India, but before taking 
up this work, I had a very bad attack of typhoid fever, 
with relapses. The doctors there were two of them 
ordered me home, and assured me that I would be dead 
within fourteen months if I did not obey them. Feel 
ing that I could not leave the work, I remained, and 
yet I lived and have been stronger ever since. As a 
matter of fact it seems to me that we are apt to conclude 
that many things are impossible before we have ever 
tested their possibility. The man who suffers against his 
will speedily becomes a physical wreck ; but if he suffers 
of his own free will, impelled to do so by his ideal, there 
is hardly any limit to his powers of endurance. This 
I have seen in Brother Sundar Singh and in Hindu 
bhagats, and know from what I have myself undergone. 
The ideal makes the suffering entailed by living up to it 
a privilege. At home I was placed by my doctor on a 
diet-list, but as a Friar I have often eaten food which 
some Indians are afraid to touch. ... A man s strength 
is commensurate with the work God gives him to do and 
his purpose and enthusiasm in undertaking it. " * 

WORLD FAME 
1918-1920 

The Sadhu s visit to Madras early in 1918 begins a 
new epoch in his life, marking as it does the transition 
from a position of obscurity to one of world-wide reputa 
tion. In South India the fame of his activities in the 
North had preceded him. Thousands flocked to hear 
him. Among Christians wherever he went a wave of 

i S. E. Stokes, op. cit. p. 19. 



32 SADHU SUNDAR SINGH 

spiritual awakening followed. Non-Christians also were 
affected, and in one place alone no less than nineteen 
were converted. 

In this connection we may note the fact that in spite 
of repeated requests the Sadhu always declines to bap 
tize converts. He always refers them to the regular 
ministers of the particular denomination which has work 
on the spot, His own father about this time decided to 
become a Christian. "You have opened my spiritual 
eyes, 7 he said, "so you must baptize me." "If I bap 
tize you," replied the Sadhu, "there are hundreds of 
others whom I must baptize. My work is not to bap 
tize, but to preach the Gospel. " 

The Sadhu, no doubt, recognizes the desirability that 
baptism should be preceded by a longer course of in 
struction than could be given by a wandering preacher, 
and also sees the necessity to the average convert, unless 
he is shortly to relapse into his old state, of a direct 
affiliation to a definite Christian community. But the 
refusal himself to perform the rite of baptism is prob 
ably due, at least in part, to a well-founded apprehension 
that the uneducated convert might attribute some specific 
virtue to his personal action. The Hindu readily at 
tributes supernatural powers to a "holy man," fears 
his curse or implores his blessing as potencies inherent 
in the man himself. Any such reputation for powers 
personal to himself the Sadhu is above all anxious to 
avoid. 

We asked him once whether he had ever tried spiritual 
healing. "Yes," he said, "but I gave it up because I 
found it made people look to me and not to Christ, and 
that is a cross I cannot bear. In Ceylon the son of a 
Christian gentleman was dying, and the doctors had 



THE MAN AND HIS MAKING 33 

given him up. The mother besought me to come and 
lay my hands on him and pray for him. I said, There 
is no power in these hands, only in the pierced hands 
of Christ/ At last I consented to go and see him in 
the hospital and prayed for him and put my hand upon 
his head. Three days later I saw the boy sitting with 
his mother in the back seat at a meeting I was address 
ing. Then I found that, however much I impressed upon 
people that it was not my personal power that had 
effected the cure, but the power of Christ in answer to 
prayer, they insisted on looking upon me as a wonder 
worker; and I saw that I must not do this again, as it 
would encourage superstition and distract attention from 
the Gospel I have to preach." 

Sundar s aliveness to the evil consequence of purely 
personal notoriety may be further illustrated by a fact 
told us by a lady missionary. On the first occasion that 
he visited the town in Northern India where she worked 
he mentioned in his addresses, as he often does by way 
of illustrating the lesson he is enforcing, some of the 
remarkable, and, in his own view, supernatural, deliver 
ances which he has experienced. The Indian Christians 
of the place talked of nothing else for weeks. Three or 
four years later he visited the same city, but this time 
he did not mention a single incident of this character. 

His preaching tour through the South of India and 

Cfeylon was followed by a similar visit to many of the 

hief towns in Burma, the Federated Malay States, 

China and Japan, after which he returned to spend the 

summer at his usual mission work in Tibet. 

In January, 1920, he took ship for England. His de 
sire had been to visit Palestine, but he could not obtain 
a passport ; he left India, however, with the hope that 



34 SADHU SUNDAR SINGH 

on his way back from England he might be able to do 
so. In May he left England for the United States. He 
was invited to visit Sweden, France and Switzerland on 
his return to England, but ultimately accepted an invi 
tation to go to Australia instead, and thence back to 
India. 

His principle of travelling from place to place with no 
money or other provision for the morrow, trusting that 
whatever is needful the Lord will provide, he still 
adhered to strictly. To one who raised a doubt whether 
this side of the Sadhu-ideal was practicable in the 
West, he replied, "God is the same God in the East and 
in the West." And as a matter of fact no difficulty 
has occurred. His passage to England was paid by his 
father, who, as we have mentioned, had lately become 
reconciled to him ; and in England and America friends 
have naturally found small difficulty in securing hos 
pitality for so remarkable a personage. His host, on 
seeing him off at the station, hands him a ticket to his 
next destination. For major expenses, like his passage 
to America, contributions were collected by friends. 

In visiting the West Sundar had more than one object. 
He wished to investigate for himself the truth in the 
statement made to him in India by non- Christians that 
the West is immoral and that Christianity has ceased 
there to be a living force; he hoped to hold converse 
there with "godly men"; and he felt called himself 
there also to bear witness to the power of Christ. 

The visit has been well worth while. Supporters of 
missions have felt great encouragement, seeing in him 
a conspicuous evidence of the Divine benediction on 
their prayers and labor in past years. Many others have 
found inspiration in listening to his fresh and vivid 



THE MAN AND HIS MAKING 35 

presentation of religion, and not a few think of their 
personal contact with him as a turning-point in their 
lives. Perhaps, too, the effect of this visit to the West 
in broadening his own outlook and enlarging his own 
experience may not be inconsiderable nor without influ 
ence on the future development of Christianity in India. 

In the streets of a Western city the saffron robe and 
turban are conspicuous. But anywhere he is a figure 
to attract attention. Erect, somewhat above middle 
height, with black hair and beard, light olive complexion, 
a Syrian-looking face with soft dark eyes, his calm of 
mien and bearing and firm peaceful dignity of stride 
make him, even apart from robe and turban, look, as 
some one put it, "as if he had stepped straight out from 
the pages of the Bible." The story is told that once, 
when calling at a certain house, the door was opened to 
him by a little maid fresh from a distant country vil 
lage. He gave the name "Sadhu Sundar Singh." She 
rushed off to her mistress. * There s some one wants to 
see you, ma am. I can t make anything of his name. 
But he looks as if it might be Jesus Christ." 

Being naturally of a retiring disposition, he frequently 
in public places wears a raincoat over his robe to avoid 
attracting notice. When possible he shuns buses or 
crowded trains, preferring to walk or, on occasion, to 
go by cab. Nevertheless he always takes in good part 
the way in which he and his unfamiliar garb are stared 
at; and he is never in the least put out by the vociferous 
and sometimes none too courteous attentions of children 
in the streets. When at Birmingham, he was taken to 
see over Cadbury s Chocolate Works. Asked afterwards 
how he had enjoyed what he had seen, "I enjoyed my 
self," he said, "but I think the girls and men working in 



36 SADIIU SUNDAR SINGH 

the factory enjoyed themselves more looking at me." 
"You ought to have charged them something for it," 
put in a friend. "Yes, yes," said the Sadhu, smiling, 
"but then they gave me so much chocolate I could not 
eat my dinner that day." Such flashes of humor are 
not infrequent with him ; and, like the Mediaeval Saints, 
he disregards at times conventional reverences. After 
an ascent of the Eiffel Tower with its three floors he 
remarked, "You can say now that you have been to the 
third heaven, like St. Paul." 

People who invite the Sadhu to a meal will often in 
quire beforehand whether he has any restrictions as to 
food. He has none. "Anything at any time" is the 
principle he often reaffirms. He is equally ready to sit 
down to a good dinner, well served and well appointed, 
or to eat the plainest fare, or, if necessary, to do without. 
And if coffee or sweets are offered to the company he 
does not disdain them. 

"England is not cold enough for me," was his re 
mark to some who were afraid that in his thin clothes 
he would feel the rigors of the climate. Tibet has inured 
him to extreme cold. Once he remarked that he would 
not wear even sandals in India he never does so but 
that friends had suggested to him that in English houses 
ladies might be solicitous about carpets and the dirt 
which, if he walked barefoot, he might bring in. Ac 
cordingly he wore sandals in the streets, but usually, in 
oriental fashion, slipped them off when entering a room. 

Affectionate to friends, courteous and considerate to 
all, a lover of animals we marked how almost tenderly 
he stroked a little dog that craved his notice he struck 
every one who met him as the embodiment of peace, gen 
tleness and loving-kindness. 



THE MAN AND HIS MAKING 37 

To awake suddenly and find oneself a "star turn" in 
London or New York is an experience that may easily 
demoralize even those who know enough of Western civ 
ilization to discount and assign to its proper value the 
quality and depth of the popular enthusiasm it implies. 
Not a few of the Sadhu s well-wishers naturally, but, as 
we believe, quite unnecessarily, felt some apprehension 
that, to use a current phrase, he might "be spoiled. " 

The adulation of the Church may be harder to with 
stand than the hostility of the World. But the Sadhu 
is not ignorant of the human soul. "We must follow 
Christ with our eyes steadily fixed on him, but with 
both our ears closed. For on the one side we may hear 
flattering remarks which might make us proud; on the 
other side we may hear criticism or slander which might 
make us despond." "People write about me," he said 
to Baron von Hugel, "but they don t point out my de 
fects, so that I may remedy them." The fact that Mrs. 
Parker s book was on sale at a certain shop was once 
mentioned in his presence. "It is not good," he said, 
"that a man s biography should be written in his life 
time." Indeed, it was only on the express understand 
ing that this book of ours was to be, not another biog 
raphy, but an attempt to interpret his message to the 
West, and so perhaps do something in the way of fol 
lowing up his preaching, that he consented to provide 
us with materials for the undertaking. 

The bustle and roar of life in Western cities visibly 
jarred upon and wearied one constitutionally a lover of 
outdoor nature and of the contemplative life. Even in 
India he dislikes large towns. He always feels the spirit 
of evil to be peculiarly powerful there. "To go into 
big towns is always against my desire, and I have to 



38 SADHU SUNDAE SINGH 

constrain myself to do so, but I was told once in an 
Ecstasy that the present life is the only opportunity that 
will be given me for helping others in this world. That 
is a privilege which even Angels are not allowed. We 
shall have Heaven for ever, but we have only a short 
time for service here, and therefore must not waste the 
one opportunity. I know why hermits prefer to live in 
caves and mountains. I much prefer it myself." 

At table, in Oxford, some one asked him point-blank 
what he thought of English Christianity and English 
life. He clearly found a difficulty in expressing his 
views in a way that would not seem discourteous to his 
hosts, saying he had not seen enough as yet to enable 
him to give an opinion, but that it seemed to him too 
little was made of the aspect of religion as peace of soul. 
"Spiritual things cannot be discerned without quiet and 
meditation"; then, perfectly naturally, he fell into a 
discourse on the Peace of God and the lack of it in Eng 
lish life and in English religion, which none of those 
who heard it will soon forget. 

A letter of the Sadhu s to a friend in India is more 
explicit. "Many people are surprised to see me in my 
simple dress with no socks or boots on my feet. But I 
told them that I love simplicity and that wherever I 
go I want to live in the same way as I live in India, not 
changing my color like a chameleon. I have been in 
England only two weeks and so cannot speak with much 
confidence of my impressions. But I feel that, just as 
the Sun is seldom to be seen on account of fogs and mist, 
so the Sun of Righteousness is almost always hidden by 
the fogs and mist of materialism. . . . Many people, 
especially those who have received blessing from the 



THE MAN AND HIS MAKING 39 

meetings, tell me that more missionaries from India are 
needed. 

On the other hand, he told an Indian friend that, in 
spite of the English people being so materialistic, he 
had found many spiritual people among them. And he 
expressed a very definite dissent from the suggestion 
that India had no more to learn from Western mission 
aries. Indeed he regarded the missionary interest and 
activity as the most vitalizing force in Western Chris 
tianity. 

In America this two-sided impression of the West 
seems to have deepened at least he gave it a more public 
expression. "Christ would say here, Come unto me 
all ye that are heavy gold-laden, and I will give you 
rest. "Still God s people are all over the world, and 
He has His own witnesses in the West also." 

In America, as in England, wherever he went, he was 
received with enthusiasm, and, as the result of prac 
tice, it became less and less difficult for him to address 
large audiences in the English language. He appreciated 
the welcome, he formed friendships, and he had reason 
to believe that his message was not delivered in vain. 
Yet those with whom he was most intimate felt that he 
was not quite happy in the West, and saw him growing 
day by day more restive for the calm of the Himalayas 
and the severe simplicity of an Indian sadlm s life. 



II 

A MYSTIC S CREED 
A CHRISTOCENTRIC MYSTICISM 

IT has been remarked of St. Paul that he was one of the 
world s great mystics, but that, in contrast to those who 
aspire to union with the Absolute or with Infinite Reality, 
his is a mysticism centered in Christ. So it is with the 
Sadhu. In Ecstasy in every vision Christ is the center 
of the scene. In ordinary life whenever, among friends, 
he speaks of Christ, the love-light beams from his eyes 
and his face is transfigured as sometimes in supreme 
moments a woman s is, gazing on her beloved. Seeing 
him one knows why a Christian has been defined as one 
"who has fallen in love with Christ." 

Once grasp the Christocentric character of his mystic 
ism, and you have the key to the understanding of his 
teaching, his character and his whole way of life. 1 The 
Divine, apprehended in and as the Eternal Christ, elicits 
in him a passion and a devotion not possible to the mystic 
to whose imagination absolute Reality takes on a less 
vividly concrete and personal form. That is why he is 
a missionary, although his own natural bent would be 
towards the hermit s life of contemplation in solitary 
mountain caves. The love of Christ constrains him. 

i Of course all specifically Christian mysticism is directed 
towards Christ, but the influence of Neo-Platonism has often 
given it a metaphysical direction foreign to the direct, concrete 
simplicity of conception in mystics like St. Francis, Mother 
Juliana, or the Sadhu. 

40 



A MYSTIC S CREED 41 

"Lovest thou me more than these?" . . . "Feed my 
lambs." That, too, is the reason why he so often urges 
that religion is not of the head but of the heart not 
metaphysical comprehension but personal devotion, not 
the Vision of Reality but the love of One who saves. 
And it is mainly because of this that we have ventured 
to assert that some who have known the Sadhu feel that 
they understand the better the inner life of two greater 
men, St. Francis and St. Paul. 

We quote an article dictated by him, when, having 
seen with his own eyes London, Oxford, and Paris fa 
mous cities symbolizing to his mind "Western thought 
and civilization in its diverse aspects he summed up 
for a Western magazine 1 what he felt to be his special 
message. If only we had it in his native tongue it 
would read like a hymn in prose form. 

"Christ is my Savior. He is my life. He is every 
thing to me in heaven and earth. Once while traveling in 
a sandy region I was tired and thirsty. Standing on the 
top of a mound I looked for water. The sight of a lake at 
a distance brought joy to me, for now I hoped to quench 
my thirst. I walked toward it for a long time, but I 
could never reach it. Afterwards I found out that it 
was a mirage, only a mere appearance of water caused 
by the refracted rays of the sun. In reality there was 
none. In a like manner I was moving about the world 
in search of the water of life. The things of this world 
wealth, position, honor and luxury looked like a lake 
by drinking of whose waters I hoped to quench my 
spiritual thirst. But I could never find a drop of water 
to quench the thirst of my heart. I was dying of thirst. 
When my spiritual eyes were opened I saw the rivers 

iCf. The Foreign Field, June, 1920. 



42 SADHU SUNDAR SINGH 

of living water flowing from His pierced side. I drank 
of it and was satisfied. Thirst was no more. Ever since 
I have always drunk of that water of life, and have 
never been athirst in the sandy desert of this world. 
My heart is full of praise. 

"His presence gives me a Peace which passeth all 
understanding, no matter in what circumstances I am 
placed. Amidst persecution I have found peace, joy 
and happiness. Nothing can take away the joy I have 
found in my Savior. In home He was there. In prison 
He was there. In Him the prison was transformed into 
Heaven, and the cross into a source of blessing. To 
follow Him and bear His cross is so sweet and precious 
that, if I find no cross to bear in Heaven, I shall plead 
before Him to send me as His missionary, if need be to 
Hell, so that there at least I may have the opportunity 
to bear His cross. His presence will change even Hell 
into Heaven. As the dumb man cannot express the 
sweetness of sweetmeats, even so a saved sinner cannot 
express the sweetness of His presence in his heart. Only 
a heavenly language can give adequate expression to this 
heavenly Peace. Even though I am in the midst of dan 
ger, temptation, sin and sorrow of this world, through 
Him who gave His life I am saved. The sea is salty and 
the fish lives all its life in it. But it never gets salty, 
because it has life. Even so if we receive life from Him, 
though in the world, we> are not of the world. Not only 
here, but also in Heaven we shall find ourselves in Him. 

Now I have no desire for wealth, position and honor. 
Nor do I desire even Heaven. But I need Him who has 
made my heart Heaven. His infinite love has expelled 
the love of all other things. Many Christians cannot 
realize His precious, life-giving presence, because for 



A MYSTIC S CREED 43 

them Christ lives in their heads or in their Bibles, not in 
their hearts. Only when a man gives his heart shall he 
find Him. The heart is the throne for the King of Kings. 
The capital of Heaven is the heart where that King 
reigns." 

Obviously the man who can speak and feel like this 
has little need of a systematical theology with all its meta 
physical implications carefully thought out. Besides, he 
thinks in pictures. For him an analogy or illustration 
is not merely a means to establish an argument ; it is 
often the argument itself. He does not state a general 
principle and then buttress it with illustration. He puts 
first the illustrations and then draws out the general 
principles implied in them. Nor does he seek afterwards 
to coordinate these general principles. The illustrations 
stand out vivid and striking; but no pains are taken to 
present them so as to cohere into a system, even though 
the thought which they illustrate has an inner coherence 
of its own. And the teaching of the Sadhu has such co 
herence ; not because he aims at system, but because his 
teaching is the spontaneous expression of prolonged med 
itation on the New Testament by a man whose own per 
sonality has attained to inward unity. 

But precisely because the Sadhu is not a systematic 
theologian but a man who thinks in pictures, it will be 
of considerable interest to see the vivid and effective way 
in which the cardinal doctrines of Christianity present 
themselves to his mind. What we shall find is, in effect, 
the Johannine theology translated into parable. 

THE TRINITY A VISION 

"At one time I was a good deal perplexed about the 
doctrine of the Trinity. I had thought of three separate 



44 SADHU SUNDAR SINGH 

Persons sitting as it were on three thrones but it was all 
made plain to me in a Vision. I entered in an Ecstasy 
into the third heaven. I was told that it was the same 
to which St. Paul was caught up. And there I saw 
Christ in a glorious spiritual body sitting on a throne. 
Whenever I go there it is the same. Christ is always 
in the center, a figure ineffable and indescribable. His 
face shining like the sun, but in no way dazzling, and so 
sweet that without any difficulty I can gaze at it always 
smiling a loving glorious smile. I felt when first I saw 
Him as if there were some old and forgotten connection 
between us, as though He had said, but not in words, 
I am He, through whom you were created/ I felt 
something the same, only far more intensely, as I felt 
when I met my father again after an interval of many 
years. My old love came back to me ; I knew I had been 
his before. 

* The first time I entered Heaven I looked round about 
and I asked, But where is God? And they told me, 
God is not to be seen here any more than on earth, for 
God is Infinite. But there is Christ, He is God, He is 
the Image of the Invisible God, and it is only in Him 
that we can see God, in Heaven as on earth. And 
streaming out from Christ I saw, as it were, waves shin 
ing and peace-giving, and going through and among 
the Saints and Angels, and everywhere bringing refresh 
ment, just as in hot weather water refreshes trees. And 
this I understood to be the Holy Spirit. x 

THE INCARNATION 
1 The Word of Life was made flesh; the Word came 

i Elsewhere, it is clear that the Sadhu does not conceive the 
Spirit as impersonal. 



A MYSTIC S CREED 45 

into flesh. I used to think : Where is the need that God 
should become incarnate and take the form of man? 
When I was not a Christian I used to criticize this doc 
trine. There are many thousands who do not find any 
intellectual difficulty in believing in the Incarnation but 
who yet cannot understand its need. Often, however, 
they find in their hearts a great desire to see God ; man 
has a natural desire to see God. We want to see Him 
whom we are trying to worship; but He is infinite. I 
say to idol worshipers: Why do you worship these 
idols? They say, God is infinite and these idols are 
only meant to help us concentrate our minds ; by means 
of these symbols we can worship, we can understand 
something. Him we love we want to talk to, we want 
to see Him. The difficulty is, we cannot see God be 
cause He is infinite. If ever some time we should be 
come infinite, we may then see the infinite God. Here 
and now we are unable to see Him, our Creator, our 
Father, the Giver of Life. That is why He became in 
carnate. He took human form, limited form, that in 
this way men might see Him." 

In the address in Balliol College Hall, from the open 
ing words of which the preceding paragraph is taken, 
there followed two homely illustrations from Indian life. 

"When I was in the Himalayas once I wanted to 
cross the River Sutlej, but there was no bridge. I could 
not swim over. I was thinking of what I should do 
when I saw a man and I said to him: I would like to 
go to the other side of the river but there is no bridge 
or boat. He said, That is all right, air will take you 
over. I was surprised. I could breathe air, but air 
could not bear me up and take me to the other side. 
But he took a skin and filled it with air, and then asked 



46 SADHU SUNDAR SINGH 

me to support myself on it. I did so and got safely 
across. As the air could only carry me by being con 
fined in the skin, so God to help man had to become in 
carnate. The Word of Life was made flesh. He will 
carry those who want to cross the river of this world to 
heaven. He that hath seen Me hath seen the Father. 
We can see the living Father in that Incarnation of 
Jesus Christ. 

"On another occasion, I remember, in Kashmir, there 
was a man who owned several hundred sheep. His 
servants used to take these sheep out for feeding, and 
each evening as they brought them back they found two 
or three missing. He asked his servants to go and look 
for them, but for fear of wild beasts they did not trouble 
themselves about them. The owner had a love for them 
and wanted to save them. If I go myself searching 
for these sheep they will not recognize me, as they have 
not seen me before. They would recognize my servants 
but the servants will not go. So I must become like a 
sheep/ He took a sheep s skin and put it on himself 
and looked like a sheep. He went out and found some 
that had gone astray and some that had been wounded. 
They readily followed him thinking that he was a sheep 
like one of themselves. 1 He brought them in and sat 
with them and fed them. When he had saved all the 

i The Sadhu said this actually occurred. A shepherd whom 
I consulted told me he could quite believe it, as it is a regular 
practice, if a lamb dies, to tie a strip of its wool on to another 
lamb whose dam is dead or has too many lambs to suckle and 
the ewe takes it at once. Recognition and the feeling of 
familiarity is with animals as much a matter of smell as of sight. 
Crossing the Sutlej by water-skin is not unusual. Cf. Auto 
biography of Devendranath Tagore, p. 257. B. IT. S. 



A MYSTIC S CREED 47 

sheep and brought them home, then he took off the sheep 
skin. He was not sheep but man. He became a sheep 
in order to save those lost sheep. So God is not mau, 
He became man in order to save men." 

In the Tamil addresses we find this parable. 

"There was a King. His Grand Vizier was a learned 
and saintly man. When traveling in Palestine, the 
Vizier was deeply moved as he heard about Christ and 
became a Christian. When he returned home he told 
the people that he was a Christian and that he believed 
in the Savior who came to this world to save sinners. 
The King said to him: If I want anything to be done, 
I tell my servant and it is done. Then why should the 
King of Kings who is able to save men by a word come 
to this world Himself and become incarnate? The 
Vizier asked for a day of grace before giving his answer 
to the question. He sent for a skilled carpenter and 
asked him to make a doll and dress it up exactly like 
the one-year-old son of the King and to bring it to him 
the next day. The next day the King and his Minister 
were in a boat together and the King asked him for an 
answer to his question. At the same time the carpenter 
came and stood on the shore with his doll. The King 
stretched out his arm to receive the child who, he thought, 
was his own child. According to instructions previously 
given by the Vizier, the carpenter let the doll fall into 
the water. The King at once jumped into the water to 
rescue the drowning child. After a while the Vizier 
said: King, you needed not to leap into the water. 
Was it not enough to bid me do it? Why should you 
yourself jump in? The King reflected: It was a 
father s love. The Vizier said: Love was also the 



48 SADHU SUNDAR SINGH 

reason why in order to save the world the all-powerful 
God became incarnate instead of doing it by His mere 
word. 7 " 

THE ATONEMENT 

One day we asked the Sadhu how he understood the 
language of the New Testament about our being saved 
by the blood of Christ. He replied with a story. 
"Once, in Burma, preaching the Gospel of Christ, I 
said, He died to save sinners. How ? they said. But 
there was a young man present who said, * It is true. I 
thought this man must be a Christian, but when I spoke 
to him he said he had never heard of Christ. He said, 
1 It is quite true. By the death of this Man others could 
be saved. I said, How? He said, By the death of 
my father I have been saved. One day on these moun 
tains I slipped and fell down and lost my blood through 
the wound. When my father heard about it he took 
me to the hospital. 

* "He is at the point of death," said the doctor. 

1 "He is my only son," said my father. 

"It is impossible to save him, his life is going. He 
has lost too much blood nothing can be done," con 
tinued the doctor. 

"If there is anything that can be done I am willing to 
do it," said my father. 

"If anybody is willing to give his blood I can save 
him," said the doctor. 

"I am willing to give my life and blood," said my 
father. 

It was done, I lived and my father died, and by the 
death of my father I have been saved. 

"Just so," continued the Sadhu, "I had fallen on 



A MYSTIC S CREED 49 

the mountain; I had lost my spiritual blood. Life had 
gone and I was on the point of death. The Savior in 
jected His own blood into me He poured out His life 
and I was saved. Those who are willing to give their 
hearts will understand how true it is that by the death 
of Jesus Christ they can be saved. I have found it to 
be true in my experience. If you want to save life you 
have to give life." 

A most quaint illustration followed which, we under 
stood him to say, was communicated to him in a vision. 
"There was a case in South India where, under similar 
circumstances, the blood of a cat was introduced into a 
man s veins, with the result that he subsequently showed 
many of the qualities of the cat, such as spitefulness. 
This illustrates the way in which the infusion of life 
from another being can change the character of the 
person into whom it is infused." 

"They told me also in the same vision that it is only 
by being grafted into Christ that we produce good fruit. 
Other religions say, Do good and you will become good. 
Christianity says, Be in Christ, and you will do good/ 
The meaning of the Atonement and the Blood that 
washes away our sins is that we are grafted into Christ, 
I in Him, and He in me. It is a bitter sprig which is 
grafted into the tree, but, once it is grafted in, the sweet 
juice of the tree flows through the bitter sprig and makes 
it sweet." 

The preceding illustrations are along the line of the 
conception so prominent in St. John s Gospel that salva 
tion is by participation in the divine life. The parable 
which follows illustrates the somewhat different concep 
tion of ransom applied in the Gospels to the death of 
Christ. 



50 SADHU SUNDAR SINGH 

"Two young men were gambling. It was a law of 
their land that those who gambled were liable to a fine 
of five hundred rupees. The Government officers found 
them gambling and made them prisoners. Of these two, 
one was the son of a wealthy man; the other was the 
son of a poor peasant. Five hundred rupees were im 
mediately paid for the wealthy boy he was released from 
prison. What could the poor boy do? As he could 
not pay the fine, he remained in prison. To get enough 
money to pay the fine, his mother toiled all day long, 
carrying stones. Stones would fall upon her hands and 
cut her and make the blood flow. Through the window 
of his prison the young man saw his mother s hands 
and asked: Mother, what is this wound in your hand? 
What is this blood on your finger ? I am working like 
this to save you/ said the mother, and explained in 
detail the work she did. At last she saved five hundred 
rupees and freed her son from the prison. Then one day 
the rich young man saw him and invited him to a game 
of dice. I can never do that hereafter. Your release 
came easily, but I was saved by my mother s hard work, 
by her toil, by the wounds on her body, by her blood. 
In the future I shall not even look at this game which 
has brought such suffering to my mother. Those who, 
like the rich young man, think that salvation from sin 
will come easily have no strength to abandon sin. But 
those who realize that God became incarnate and shed 
His precious blood to save us from our sins, will not like 
to commit the sin which gives such suffering to their 
God." 

Here is a parable suggesting rather the Abelardian 
conception of the appeal of self-sacrificing love. "There 
was a young man who led a bad life, he rebelled against 



A MYSTIC S CREED 51 

his father and ran away from home, and finally joined a 
gang of dacoits. At home he had a brother who loved 
him very much. His father expressed the wish, if it 
were possible, to convey to the erring brother his will 
ingness to forgive him. Nobody ventured on account 
of the danger of the jungle. At last the brother offered 
to do so, and the father gave him as message the fact of 
his continued love for his erring child, and also sent him 
some presents to convince him of his fatherly love and 
goodwill. On the way he fell into the hands of dacoits, 
who robbed him of the money and valuables, and mortally 
wounded him. He said to them, I don t mind your 
seizing all I have; only take me to your leader, which 
they did. His brother recognized him by his voice, and 
when he saw his wounds he was smitten to the heart. 
I have, said the wounded brother, brought you a mes 
sage from your father ; he loves you still ; he has never 
ceased to love you; if you return now, he will forgive 
you. This is the object of my coming, and now I am 
prepared to die. And so he gave his life for his brother. 
The dacoit repented and went back to his father, and 
ever remembered and mourned over the brother who 
had given his life for him. So has Jesus done for us. 
Many do not understand all that this means for us. Has 
it really got as far as your hearts yet ? " 

St. Paul s metaphor of "the wall of partition" has 
evidently suggested thje following: 

"Some time ago I saw on the Himalayas two villages 
that had been separated by a very high and inaccessible 
mountain. The direct distance from one village to the 
other was not great, but as travelers had to go round 
the mountain, walking over it being impossible, the 
journey took a week. A man lived in one of those vil- 



52 SADHU SUNDAR SINGH 

lages who resolved that, if a road could not be made 
over the mountain, then it ought to be made through it. 
He resolved to lay down even his life in an attempt to 
cut a way through. He set to work; but, alas, before 
it was finished he was killed. He laid down his life in 
an attempt to unite the two villages. I thought of this 
as an illustration of the wall of sin, and of how Jesus 
Christ has made a way through it by giving His life 
as St. Paul says, Ye who were sometimes afar off are 
made nigh by the blood of Christ ." 

The idea of the death of Christ as being merely or 
mainly a propitiatory sacrifice seems not to occur in the 
Sadhu s preaching; or, if it does, to have little organic 
connection with his deepest thought on the subject. To 
him Hell and Judgment await the unrepentant as the 
result of an automatic internal process, they are not an 
expression of the Divine wrath. For he thinks of God 
only in terms of Christ and "Jesus Christ is never an 
noyed with any one. 

MYSTICAL UNION WITH CHRIST 

"India," reiterates the Sadhu with passionate con 
viction, "has no need of missionaries to teach a Christ 
who is merely a great moral teacher and not also the 
Lord of life." To most of us the name Christ suggests 
primarily the historic Jesus in and through whom we 
see, as it were, the face of God invisible. But in all ages 
the Christocentric Mystic is one who thinks first of an 
Eternal Divine Being whom now he knows and loves, 
and only in the second place of the Man who ate and 
drank and taught in Galilee. 

"There are those who speak of Christ as the Supreme 






A MYSTIC S CREED 53 

Mystic; what," he was asked, " would you say to that?" 
"That is the tendency of those who are not inclined to 
accept the divinity of Christ. Christ is not the supreme 
mystic; He is the Master of mystics, the Savior of 
mystics." 

"Christ is not only an historical figure but one who 
lives and works to-day. He lives not merely in the Bible 
but in our hearts." "An Indian Christian, who had 
traveled widely, said once: I saw Muhammad s tomb. 
It was very splendid, decorated with diamonds and all 
manner of precious things. And they told me: Here 
are Muhammad s bones/ I saw Napoleon s tomb and 
they said: Here are Napoleon s 1 bones. But when I 
saw Christ s tomb, it was open. No bones lay there. 
Christ is the Living Christ. The tomb has been open 
thus for nearly two thousand years. My heart is also 
open to the Lord. He lives in me. He is the living 
Christ because He lives in the lives of Christians. Real 
Christians are not those who profess, but those who 
possess, Christ. 

"Some say that salvation consists in being absorbed 
in God. We Christians say that to live in Christ is al 
ready heaven. We are to live in Him and He in us. 
How can this be? When a ball of iron is thrown into 

i When in Paris the Sadhu, who ordinarily has little taste for 
sightseeing, showed a special anxiety to see the tomb of Napoleon, 
but twice found the chapel closed, and he inquired assiduously 
whether and how his body and bones had come from St. Helena. 
This interest in Napoleon, of which there is other evidence, is 
probably due mainly to his reflections on the contrast which 
Napoleon himself drew between the empires founded by Alex 
ander, Caesar and himself, which were founded on force and there 
fore perished, and the empire of Christ, which, being founded on 
love, is imperishable. 



54 SADHU SUNDAE SINGH 

the fire it becomes red-hot. The iron is in the fire and 
the fire is in the iron, and yet the iron is not the fire 
and the fire is not the iron. In the same way we live in 
Christ and He lives in us and yet we do not become gods. 

" Consider the air we breathe. The air is our life, 
yet man is not the air, nor the air man. In like manner 
we breathe God s spirit, but we are not God. Just as 
we draw in the air by breathing, we can inhale the 
Blessed Spirit by prayer. Not only do we draw near to 
God, but we are united with Him. This is not only 
union but life, and when we have this life we see the 
marvelous love of God. 

The planets have no light in themselves. They shine 
with light which they have borrowed from the sun. 
Christians are like them. In themselves they have no 
light, but they shine with light borrowed from the Sun 
of Righteousness. 

"The Church is called the body of Christ because 
the relation between Christ and Christians is not that 
between a master and his servants. It is more than that. 
Christians are Christ s own parts. They are not only 
friends of Christ, they are Christ Himself. He breathes 
through them. 

"Christ is always present in the Church, but unseen. 
Wherever men feel in their hearts a feeling of rever 
ence, this is a dim recognition of His presence. But 
Christ never interferes with our freedom so as to compel 
us to feel His presence. He allows us to do so according 
to our capacity. Indeed He never interferes with us 
here in any way by compulsion, only by attraction. 

"We see medicine for the eye. We see it so long as 
it is before us. But when it is dropped in the eye, it 
cools the eye and cleanses it, but we cannot see it with 



A MYSTIC S CREED 55 

the eye. In the same way we cannot see the Savior 
who cleanses our heart and makes it rejoice with His 
presence. 

"The Christian has eternal life because the God to 
whom he is united is Eternal." 



Ill 

A MYSTIC S PEACE 
THE PEACE OF GOD 

To have spent an hour with Sundar Singh is to have 
received an unforgettable impression of calm and joy. 
"The peace of God" shines in his face and seems by 
his mere presence to be diffused around. To him Heaven 
has already begun on earth; and he would have it so 
for others also. It was, he believes, of this experience 
that St. Paul spoke (Eph. ii. 6), "He made us to sit 
with him in heavenly places, in Christ Jesus." The ex 
istence of this Peace, this "Heaven on earth," and the 
possibility of attaining it, are to the Sadhu of the es 
sence of the Christian message. And potentially it is 
a gospel for all men. A sentence by Miss Evelyn Under 
bill x would exactly express his attitude: "Without be 
ing geographers we can enter into the spirit of land 
scape, and without being philosophers or theologians we 
can enter into Heaven, if we start in the right direction ; 
for Heaven is a Temper, most simply understood as 
awareness of the indwelling Christ." 

This Peace took hold of him from the moment of his 
conversion. "When I was converted by the vision of 
Christ a power like electricity entered my soul and took 
possession of it." He naturally expected to find other 
Christians enjoying this Peace, and not merely that but 

i Cf. Church Congress Addresses, 1920. 
56 



A MYSTIC S PEACE 57 

being transformed by its influence. His expectations 
were not fulfilled. "Have you been disappointed with 
Christians?" "Yes," said the Sadhu, "I was at first. 
I had thought they must be wonderful if they possessed 
this wonderful peace." But long ago he has discovered 
that Christians as well as others need to learn its secret. 
"It is a wonderful peace. I wish I could show you this 
peace. It is impossible, because people cannot see that 
wonderful peace. "We cannot tell others: there are no 
words to express that peace, but those who have had their 
spiritual eyes opened can understand it." The in 
adequacy of his knowledge of the English language, 
about which he often speaks, is not the difficulty here. 
"I have no words, even in my own language, to express 
that wonderful peace." "It is not the sort of thing you 
can show others: it is a hidden peace." But what mystic 
ever has found language adequate to describe experience? 
Indeed, William James would make "ineffability" one 
of the four characteristic marks of mysticism. 1 

The Sadhu constantly emphasizes how entirely differ 
ent are the peace and joy of which he speaks from the 
enjoyments of wealth and home in his younger days. 
"The luxuries of home could not give me that peace." 
"My soul is like an ocean. On the surface there may 
be waves and tempests, but deep down there is undis 
turbed calm." When he sees the sin and suffering of 
men he is sore troubled, but in the depths of his nature 
Peace still remains. During his early years as a Chris 
tian he was so struck by the unusual character of this 
peace that he thought it might be, to quote his own 
somewhat obscure expression, "some hidden power of 
his life" meaning, no doubt, some undetected physio- 
1 Cf. Varieties of Religious Experience, p. 380. 



58 SADHU SUNDAE SINGH 

logical or psychological idiosyncrasy in his constitution ; 
or, again, that it might be in some unexplained way the 
effect of self -hypnotism. One result, as we have seen, 
of the great Fast was to clear away this doubt and to 
convince him that it was a peace born of heaven. 

But this Peace is a thing which, though hard to ex 
plain, it is possible to attain. "This world is full of 
sorrow ; our body is the abode of misery. This being so, 
many argue that so long as we are in this world pos 
sessed of this body heavenly joy is impossible. Once 
on the Himalayas I said to another traveler, Here are 
some hot springs. He thought I was mad and said, 
* It is a lie to say that in this cold place where even water 
freezes there are hot springs/ I took hold of him and 
led him and made him dip his hand in a certain spring. 
Then by means of personal experience he realized the 
truth of what I had said. Then he tried to offer a sci 
entific reason for the fact. In the same way, only by 
personal experience can we know that even in this world 
full of sorrow we can have a heavenly joy/ "I met 
a man in Tibet who was a wonderful man. He showed 
me his scars when he took off his clothes. He said he 
was so happy in being persecuted for Christ s sake ; and 
he told me the story of his conversion. When I first 
saw a man martyred/ he said, it made me think over 
these spiritual things. He was being tortured to death 
by being exposed to the sun sewn up into a wet yak s 
skin, and as I saw him I thought, "What is that thing 
in his life that makes him so happy?" The Lama said, 
"There must be an evil spirit in him." "If an evil spirit 
can give such a wonderful thing," I said, "I pray to God 
to give me that same evil spirit. It made me think 
about it and I became a Christian. The martyr s name 



A MYSTIC S PEACE 59 

was Kartar Singh. He showed such wonderful peace 
and joy in the midst of torture that his persecutors cut 
out his heart to find the exact nature of that peace, but 
they found only a piece of flesh. ! 

Christians who do not appropriate to themselves this 
wonderful treasure of peace and joy which is within 
their reach are like a beggar whom the Sadhu heard of 
in Nepal some years ago. * The man had been a beggar 
for twenty-one years. His ambition had been to become 
a rich man and yet he had died poor. After his death 
it was discovered that under the spot where he had sat 
and begged for twenty-one years was a buried treasure, 
containing jewels and other valuables which had be 
longed formerly to a king. The beggar had not been 
aware of the endless riches over which he had been sit 
ting. Even so there are many Christians who go through 
life without enjoying the peace and happiness which are 
accessible to them in Christ Jesus. 

" People who have received that peace and joy and 
happiness do not need to be told to go and tell others; 
they cannot keep quiet. There are many Christians to 
whom I say, Why don t you go and tell of Jesus Christ 
to others? If you have seen something, you cannot keep 
quiet." 

The terms " peace, * "joy" and happiness," used 
by the Sadhu when speaking in English about the nature 
of this experience, are not, we elicited by a question, in 
tended to express three different kinds of feeling. In 
the Tamil addresses only two, peace and joy, are men 
tioned. What he speaks of is a single movement of the 
soul, combining in ineffable harmony a calm, profound 
and indisturbable, which he names "Peace," and a rad 
iant fullness of life and light which he calls "Joy," and 



60 SADHU SUNDAR SINGH 

which is to him not only the evidence, but the actuality, 
of personal union with Christ. 

An especially interesting characteristic of this 
" Peace" is that it is for him a condition of intellectual 
illumination and the faculty of insight into spiritual 
problems. "Would you say, Sadhuji," we said to him 
one day, "that this peace which you have is the same 
as that which St. Paul describes as the peace which 
passeth all understanding?" "Yes," he replied, "it 
is a peace which not merely passeth all understanding 
but which enlighteneth all understanding." 

THE PHILOSOPHY OF THE CROSS 

His Peace and perhaps this is its most notable fea 
turenot merely abides with him in moments of com 
parative ease and comfort, but becomes most intense 
amidst suffering and persecution. "What is the use," 
says he, "of a religion which does not help us under 
trying circumstances?" 

On one occasion we asked whether his peculiar expe 
rience of Peace had thrown light for him on anything 
in the Bible. He at once quoted, "I am filled with com 
fort, I am exceeding joyful in all our tribulations" (II 
Cor. vii. 4). 

Sometimes, under the sternest circumstances, Peace 
has been raised to the pitch of exultation. This may be 
illustrated by an adventure, already cursorily alluded 
to, which he related when in Oxford. At a certain town 
he was ordered, under pain of heavy punishment, to give 
up preaching. He disregarded the threat, with the re 
sult that he was seized and cast into the common prison 
along with a number of murderers and thieves. In such 



A MYSTIC S PEACE 61 

company and in the horrible surroundings of an eastern 
prison he wrote in the fly-leaf of his New Testament, 
"Christ s presence has turned my prison into a blessed 
heaven: what then will it do in heaven hereafter?" He 
started preaching to his fellow-prisoners and many heard 
him gladly and began to turn towards the Christ he 
preached. The authorities, hearing of this, took him out 
of the prison and brought him to the market-place for 
punishment. He was stripped and was forced to sit 
on the ground all that day and the following night with 
out anything to eat or drink; his feet and hands fixed 
in a kind of stocks, and leeches were thrown upon his 
naked body. A mocking crowd stood round enjoying 
the spectacle. When the authorities saw him the follow 
ing morning, still alive and bearing a calm face, they 
were afraid that he was possessed of some supernatural 
power and let him go. He fell down unconscious, but 
after a while came to himself and with the greatest dif 
ficulty crawled away and found friends, secretly Chris 
tian, who nursed him back to strength. But all the 
while, he assured us, he enjoyed an experience of in 
tense inward Peace. And Mrs. Parker records that, in 
telling this same story to her, he added, "I do not know 
how it was, but my heart was so full of joy that I could 
not help singing and preaching. M1 

This last incident makes it clear that the real mean 
ing of the Sadhu s Peace cannot be seen except in its 
relation to his Philosophy of the Cross. Between re 
nunciation and satisfaction there is a psychological con 
nection which is conditioned by something in the funda 
mental constitution of human nature. This shows itself 
in every act of choice. Choice at its lowest level pre- 

iCf. Parker, p. 55. 



62 SADHU SUNDAR SINGH 

sents the problem, "You cannot both have your cake 
and eat it"; but until we have made the decision with 
pleasure to renounce a decision always irksome to un 
redeemed humanity disquiet reigns within. At a 
higher level than this, the experience of life has taught 
most of us that peace of mind can be bought only at the 
price of some renunciations. Only when some alterna 
tives have been resolutely excluded always a painful 
process, and the whole self thus directed along one 
straight, high road of thought or action, is inner con 
flict ended. It was of this world, not at any rate, not 
in the first instance of the next, that the words were 
spoken. "Straight is the gate and narrow is the way 
that leadeth unto life." Renunciation, however, so long 
as it is felt as such, involves in itself an element of inner 
conflict. But remember, the Sadhu is a Christocentric 
Mystic; realize that to him, as to St. Francis or St. 
Paul, partnership with Christ is a passion and a priv 
ilege, and therefore transforms labor, hardship, loss, 
from something which is to be accepted negatively as 
an unfortunate necessity, into something positively to 
be welcomed for His sake and you will understand a 
little of the secret of the Sadhu s Peace. Si crucem 
portas portabit te, "Bear the cross and it will b^r thee." 
It is of his Heaven on earth that he speaks when, re 
calling this passage of the Imitation, he says: "From 
my fourteen years experience of life as a sadhu for 
Jesus Christ I can say with confidence that the Cross 
will bear those who bear the Cross until it lifts them 
up to Heaven into the presence of the Savior." 

The Sadhu has an enthusiasm, one can only call it 
that, for suffering not, like the Ascetic, for its own 
sake, nor for the sake of any spiritual profit he may 



A MYSTIC S PEACE 63 

hope to gain from it, but in the service, in the steps, in 
the companionship of the Beloved. This explains at 
once the intense interest he takes in anything connected 
with martyrs and martyrdom. Like many of the early 
Christians he would himself prefer a martyr s end. But 
he longs, not only for the joy of sharing with Christ the 
extremity of persecution, but also for the opportunity 
of " bearing witness" to His power and for His cause. 
The latter motive is shown by a remark of his that once, 
when bound to a tree in an uninhabited forest and left 
to die until released in what he regards as a miracul 
ous manner he was only sorry that he was going to 
perish in a way which would prevent his death being an 
act of public witness for Christ. The importance he at 
taches to what one might call the "propaganda value" 
of martyrdom and did not "martyr" originally mean 
just "testifier"? is in a line with his doctrine that suf 
fering is not a thing to be sought for its own sake, as 
the typical ascetic thinks, but to be welcomed when it 
comes in the way of, or as a means of service to, the 
cause of Christ. 

In Paris, when asked what sights he would like to 
see, he said, "Things connected with martyrs and the 
religious life of the country." He passed rapidly 
through the Louvre, but was attracted specially by a 
picture of St. Sebastian pierced by arrows. He after 
wards described that as the best picture in the Louvre. 
Part of the attraction of Tibet as his special mission-field 
is, as we have already noticed, the possibility of suffering 
and martyrdom Tibet being a closed land to the mis 
sionary, unless, like the Sadhu, he is prepared to brave 
martyrdom at any moment. In his addresses he fre 
quently tells of the suffering of martyrs, especially of 



64 SADHU SUNDAE SINGH 

pioneers of the Gospel whom he has met or heard of in 
Tibet, The fact that he anticipates the possibility of a 
similar fate, and aspires to meet it with the same heroic 
calm and exuberance of supernatural joy, gives a per 
sonal significance to a story like the following. 

"There was a Christian in Tibet. When he preached 
the Gospel the people treated him with contumely. But, 
undaunted by the persecution, he continued to preach 
the Gospel. The people took a knife and cut his skin. 
He was bleeding and they put chili powder and salt into 
the cuts and wounds. He did not mind the pain which 
this caused him but said: Formerly Satan wounded 
me very much with his fiery darts. But the blood of 
Jesus healed those wounds. The suffering caused by 
your wounds is not much. With a desire to torture 
him still more, they began to peel off his skin. But he 
said to them: I thank you for this. Take off this old 
garment. I shall soon put on Christ s garment of 
righteousness. Seeing that he was not disheartened, 
but that, still conscious, he was praising God and was 
happy, and unable to endure the sight, they cast him 
into a roaring fire. I thank you for throwing me into 
this fire, he said, for the flames of this fire lift me up 
high so that I may reach heaven soon. Then he prayed 
for his persecutors and died, gladly entrusting his soul 
to the Father s care." 



THE DARK NIGHT OP THE SOUL 

The literature of mysticism abounds in references to 
a phase of spiritual experience known as "the dark 
night of the soul." This is a period of "impotence, 
blankness, solitude," arising in some mystics from a 



A MYSTIC S PEACE 65 

sense of separation from God, in others from an abrupt 
conviction of the soul s own hopeless and helpless im 
perfection, and in still others from a disappearance of 
all the old ardors. "Such an interval of chaos and 
misery may last for months, or even for years, before 
the consciousness again unifies itself and a new center 
is formed." 1 Has the Sadhu had any experience cor 
responding to the "dark night of the soul"? In reply 
to this question, the significance of which he at once 
caught, referring also to the phrase "game of love" used 
in regard to it by some mystics, he said that sometimes 
for a few hours but never for days or weeks his soul 
has been deprived of its wonderful peace and joy. He 
is glad this has occurred for two reasons: first, because 
when he emerges out of the darkness he has a greater 
joy than ever in the light, and, secondly, because the 
experience refutes effectively the position that the hu 
man and the divine soul are one, for, if they are one, 
how can they be separated and how can this episode in 
the soul s life-history take place? "Of course, God does 
not really abandon the soul. He only hides himself for 
a moment. There was a Red Indian boy once who was a 
coward. His father wanted to teach him bravery. So 
he took him to the woods and tied him to a tree and left 
him there all night long. The boy howled in the fear 
that wild beasts might come and make a prey of him. 
But the father had not actually left him; he had only 
hid himself behind a tree, gun in hand, to shoot any wild 
beast that might come to attack his son. So does our 
heavenly Father with us." On another occasion, speak 
ing on the same topic, he said, "Sometimes I felt I had 
been left alone. Then I began to think: I have com- 

i Evelyn Underbill, Mysticism, p. 462. 



66 SADHU SUNDAR SINGH 

mitted a sin. That is why my peace is taken away. I 
wanted to know what that sin was on account of which I 
had lost my peace. Sometimes we are left alone on ac 
count of sin, sometimes we are left alone, not for this 
cause, but that so we may bear witness for Him more 
than before." 

"Have you ever felt any strain," we asked, u in main 
taining your spiritual life?" 

In India there are long spells of rainless heat. After 
the first rain the heat rises, hot mists form like vapor, 
and one has a sense of suffocation. After the second, 
third and fourth showers there is no dust, no feeling of 
suffocation. So after the first shower of blessing (pre 
sumably his conversion) I felt perplexities; but after 
the second, third and fourth showers of blessing I have 
felt them no more. This is especially true since the 
Fast. Since the Fast I get more easily into Ecstasy, but 
before it I took more delight in the physical joy of the 
waking state. I was too conscious of the external world 
and not deep enough in spiritual things. The Fast prob 
ably put me in the right way." 

Nevertheless, with the Sadhu, the experience of spir 
itual desolation seems never to have lasted more than a 
few hours. "We put several questions to him on this 
point to make quite sure we had not misunderstood him. 
It became clear to us that unless his recollection was at 
fault, which, on a point so central to him, is not very 
likely right from the time of his conversion he has been 
comparatively immune from such periods of depression, 
and since the Fast all but completely so. If ever I lost 
my Peace I got it back when I began to pray." 



IV 

A MYSTIC S WAY 
THE MYSTIC AND THE PLAIN MAN 

THE Sadhu has no sympathy with the conception of a 
Mystic as a kind of spiritual aristocrat aloof from the 
common herd of simple Christians. He has, indeed, as 
we have seen in the previous chapter, much to say about 
the ineffable quality of mystic experience; but he is no 
less insistent that the communion with the Divine which 
is its essence is open to every man needing no rare or 
special gifts, and demanding no abandonment of the 
ordinary avocations of life. Especially remarkable is his 
constant repudiation of the Ascetic ideal which has ap 
pealed to so many Mystics, whether Christian or Hindu. 
To him the mystic way is not the via negativa of self- 
conscious renunciation but just a simple quiet life of 
Prayer and self-sacrificing Service. 

"You deprecate the title ascetic/ you told us, would 
you accept that of mystic ?" we asked. 

"That is a different matter/ said he, "but I do not 
quite like to describe myself as a mystic. For one thing 
the ordinary man (here the Sadhu smiled) thinks mys 
tic is something connected with mist, and many even 
who know better than this are inclined to say of one who 
claims to be a mystic, He may be a very sensible man in 
most things, but in one thins he is mad. The true 
mystic is one who lives with God and knows the mind of 

C7 



68 SADHU SUNDAR SINGH 

God ; and very few, even of the greatest saints, have got 
very far in this. I am only a beginner, a child sucking 
milk from its spiritual mother. I enjoy it and it gives 
me strength. I ask no further questions than to be His 
child. Hence I hesitate to call myself a mystic, just as 
in India I always try to prevent people calling me 
Swami. 1 I prefer to be called merely Sadhu, which 
only means religious man. : 

On another occasion we asked, "What about the reli 
gion of non-mystical people? Some people appreciate 
music and some don t. Some appreciate good pictures 
and some don t. So may not some have the capacity for 
religion and others not ? 

"The capacity for religion," he replied, "is not like 
the capacity to appreciate art. It is rather like thirst. 
Is there any man who does not become thirsty ? Just as 
thirst has been created to make men use water, so the 
religious thirst has been created to make men come to 
God." 

"But," we objected, "some men surely have a larger 
spiritual capacity than others. You would say, would 
you not, that men like Augustine, Luther, Wesley, are 
more gifted than others?" 

1 1 There are physical differences between different men. 
Some have larger heads than others and some smaller. 
But I believe that the spiritual capacity in all men is 
alike. Men like St. Augustine stand out because they 
have developed their capacity better. They have spent 
more time and energy on the cultivation of their spir 
itual life." 

i "Swami" means "Lord," and is a title applied in India to 
gods and holy men. 



A MYSTIC S WAY 69 



RENUNCIATION AND ACTIVE SERVICE 

The Sadhu will not tolerate the suggestion that the 
cloistered mystics of the Middle Ages lived only for 
themselves, doing no good to the world. "Did not a 
monk," he asked, "write the Imitation of Christ, which 
has given priceless counsel to multitudes?" Yet, in 
spite of the long hours he spends in what to him is the 
Heaven of communion with Christ, the Sadhu s own 
life is predominantly one of active service busy and 
exhausting. Asked what he would do with a week, if 
he had it all to himself, whether he would spend it in 
prayer and meditation or in active work, he replied in 
his characteristic way, "Can we drink only water or 
eat only food for a week? We require both drink and 
food." He spends weeks together on the Himalayas, 
but it would be quite a mistake to conclude that he de 
votes thorn entirely to prayer and meditation. He rarely 
has complete days of pure meditation. He preaches the 
Clospel in the villages that are scattered all over the 
Himalayas, and meditates when he finds the time. 

The practical character of his Christianity may be 
illustrated by a story which he often l tells on account of 
its extremely literal exemplification of the truth of a fa 
vorite text: "whosoever would save his life shall lose it, 
and whosoever shall lose his life for my sake shall find 
it" (Matt, xvi, 25). 

Crossing a range of mountains in a heavy snowstorm 
he was joined by a Tibetan who was afraid of going 
alone. The cold was so intense that they had already 

i He told the story at Mansfield College, Oxford, and we have 
found no less than three versions of it in print. 



70 SADHU SUNDAE SINGH 

begun to despair of reaching their destination alive, when 
they saw a man, who had slipped down a slope of snow 
some thirty feet below the path, lying there unconscious. 
The Sadhu asked his companion to help him carry the 
man to the village. The Tibetan, telling him that he 
was a fool to try to help another when he could barely 
save himself, left him and hurried on ahead. The Sadhu 
went down the slope and just managed to get back on 
to the road again with the man on his shoulders and 
struggled slowly along. Some distance further on he 
perceived his former companion sitting by the wayside. 
He called, but there was no answer he was frozen dead. 
The Sadhu himself meanwhile had become thoroughly 
warmed by his exertions and, as a result of this warmth 
and of the friction between their bodies, the man he 
carried also gradually became warmer and came to ; and 
both reached the village alive and full of thankfulness. 
"It is easy to die for Christ. It is hard to live for 
Him. Dying takes only an hour or two, but to live for 
Christ means to die daily. During the few years of this 
life only I am given the privilege to serve man and 
Christ. If it were right for me to be in Heaven always 
I should have been called there, but as I am still left on 
earth it is my duty to work. This is where I entirely 
disagree with the Hindu idea of renunciation. I do not 
call myself a Sannyasi, for a Sannyasi means one who 
renounces. He renounces the world because he thinks 
everything in it is evil, but I think that all is good. The 
world is all the property of my Father, and is therefore 
my property. 1 If I renounce the world I renounce some 

i In Hindu law property frequently belongs to the family, not 
to the individual. 



A MYSTIC S WAY 71 

of the gifts which my Heavenly Father gives me out of 
His Love. Therefore I do not renounce the world, but 
only the evil in it." 

The world is full of difficulty and temptation, but it 
is not intrinsically bad. "In the Himalayas there is a 
place where there are beautiful flowers, but if you linger 
there you go off to sleep. The men who live there al 
ways smell another herb before passing the spot, to 
counteract their power. When they warned me, I sup 
posed the flowers were poisonous; but they told me that 
they were not actually poisonous, as was proved by the 
fact that people affected by them did not die till after 
twelve days, and that, not directly from the effect of the 
flowers, but as a result of the hunger and thirst conse 
quent on their long torpor. Just so, the good things of 
this world are not in themselves bad, but they may pre 
vent one feeling spiritual hunger and thirst and thus be 
the cause of spiritual death. And just as there is an 
other herb whose smell prevents one from falling asleep 
when one passes these flowers, so the medicine of Prayer 
will keep one safe amid the attractions of the world." l 

"Undoubtedly the claims of wealth and position do 
tend to distract man from the higher life. That is 
why," says the Sadhu, few very wealthy people sub 
scribe to Missions. So Rajas have sometimes become 

i It is often difficult to be certain when the illustrations given 
by the Sadhu are drawn from actual life and when they are 
intended to bo taken as merely parables. A certain lady, in 
whose hearing the Sadhu had used this particular illustration, 
supposed it was a parable derived from his own fancy, but to 
her surprise came across a case of a coolie who was sent to sleep 
for nine days by these flowers, and wrote a letter from India 
on the subject which is now in my possession. B. H. S, 



72 SADHU SUNDAR SINGH 

Sannyasis. So, too, the Buddha. They thought the 
good things of this world were in themselves evil, but in 
reality they are not evil, only they produce evil effects 
if they are not used properly. I admire some of these 
Indian kings who have renounced the world, even though 
their theory is mistaken. I admire their courage in that, 
once they grasped the effect of these things on them, they 
were able, after living in state and luxury, to renounce 
them. One such instance was Bharatri Harish Chandra, 
King of Ujjain. I saw his magnificent palace, and then, 
a few miles away, the underground cave to which he re 
tired after his renunciation. The striking contrast of 
the two brought home to me how impossible it is for the 
soul to find satisfaction in worldly things. These may 
be good, but one cannot slake one s spiritual thirst with 
them. There was once a house on fire ; the owner, want 
ing to quench the flames, took up a vessel full of paraffin. 
He thought it was water; both water and paraffin spring 
from the ground. He poured it on the fire, but it only 
made it worse. The same thing happens when we try 
to quench the flames of spiritual desire with the good 
things of this world. " 

"Do you ever, we asked, "have people say to you, 
It is all very well for you, a sadhu, without a family to 
support, or a business to carry on, to follow literally the 
teaching of Christ; but how is this possible for those 
who have families to bring up, and who have to carry 
on the world s work which you yourself say is the life 
to which the majority of men are called? 3 "For all 
men," he replied, "as long as they live in this world, 
there will be great difficulties in the way of following 
Christ. My life is not an easy one. My difficulties are 



A MYSTIC S WAY 73 

great. So are the difficulties of men who live in the 
world, though they are not quite of the same kind. But, 
if we do our best in spite of difficulties, we shall acquire 
a strength which will enable us at once to achieve great 
heights the moment we enter the next life where those 
difficulties will be removed. In olden days men trained 
themselves for certain races by trying to run in chains. 
They could not run either easily or fast in chains, but 
when, on the day of the race, the chains were thrown 
aside they found they could run much faster on account 
of the strength they had developed in the chains. " 

We returned to the charge, "But business men often 
say, with some show of justice, that Christianity is not 
practicable in this world. What, for instance, would 
you say to a man in business who says that in order to 
keep his position he has to be dishonest, to say, for ex 
ample, that a certain material is good when he knows it 
is not; otherwise his employer would dismiss him?" 

"At first," said the Sadhu, "the man may suffer be 
cause of his desire to be honest. But soon people will 
begin to respect him and God also will prosper him. I 
knew a merchant in India who suffered because of his 
honesty. He suffered for two or three years. Then 
they all began to buy from him when they saw his 
sincerity and truth; and he became a rich man. 

"If a man is really living with Christ, misfortune, 
sickness, abuse, persecution cannot harm him. On the 
contrary he responds to these in such a way that good 
results both to himself and to others. A boy once threw 
some stones at a tree and the fruit fell down. His father 
said, You see if you try to hurt the tree it gives you in 
return good fruit, so it is with those who live in Christ." 



74 SADHU SUNDAR SINGH 

THE NATURE OF PRAYER 

Prayer is a theme on which it is possible to say much 
that is true, but not much that is new. Indeed one 
would instinctively suspect the soundness of views on 
this subject which seemed too startlingly original. At 
any rate the Sadhu has none such to proclaim. His ob 
servations on Prayer are on the same high level of "in 
spired common sense" as those on Service and Renunci 
ation. They are in the main simple, familiar, straight 
forward maxims illuminated by his special gift for happy 
illustration. But they are also the expression of an 
absolute conviction resting- upon personal experience, 
and for that alone would be worth recording. 

How much of your prayer is petition and how much 
of it is communion?" we asked the Sadhu. "For the 
first two or three years after my conversion, he replied, 
"I used to ask for specific things. Now I ask for God. 
Supposing there is a tree full of fruits, you will have to 
go and buy or beg the fruits from the owner of the 
tree. Every day you would have to go for one or two 
fruits. But if you can make the tree your own property, 
then all the fruits will be your own. In the same way, 
if God is your own, then all things in heaven and on 
earth will be your own, because He is your Father and 
is everything to you, otherwise you will have to go and 
ask like a beggar for certain things. When they are 
used up, you will have to ask again. So ask not for 
gifts, but for the Giver of gifts; not for life but for 
the Giver of life then life and the things needed for life 
will be added unto you. 

"Prayer is not begging, it is communion with God 
it is conversing with God. How our life is trans- 



A MYSTIC S WAY 75 

formed when we are in the company of a noble friend ! 
Then how much more will communion with the One who 
is good beyond all measure transform us ! 

When I was traveling in Baluchistan I came to a 
village, and the water had to be brought three miles to 
that village. There is no spring or well there. One 
day there was a certain man whom I met; he told me 
everything about it. He had two sons and he asked his 
sons to go and dig in a certain field, saying, There is 
treasure in that field. They said, We shall find gold 
and silver there. So from morning to evening they were 
digging for three days, but they did not find anything 
and they went to tell their father. The father said: 
There is a great treasure there ; I am sure you will find 
it. On the fourth day they were still digging and were 
tired. They said, Even if we get gold and silver we 
cannot quench our thirst. The most important thing is 
water. Suddenly a spring of water broke out and the 
men were so happy. One went to his father to tell him 
of what he had found. The father said, I did not say, 
"Go and dig for water." I knew you would not go 
and dig for the whole village. You would say: "Let 
the villagers go and dig," but when I said that a treas 
ure was there you went. My meaning was that you 
would go for the sake of gold and silver, but would find 
something more precious than that. When you were 
digging for that it was a good bodily exercise for you; 
you found water also. Prayer is an exercise like dig 
ging ; it makes one stronger stronger to deal with temp 
tation. Also by means of it one finds a treasure far more 
valuable than one set out to seek. 

"One day a man who was very hungry knocked at a 
house and asked for a slice of bread. The owner of the 



76 SADHU SUNDAR SINGH 

house welcomed him into the house and talked with 
him about spiritual things until dinner was ready and 
then he gave him dinner. The stranger s heart was 
deeply touched by this half -hour s conversation and he 
was converted and became a child of God. What he 
sought after was a slice of bread ; what he obtained was 
the salvation of his soul." 

Intercession is an important element in the Sadhu s 
own prayers. "I have two or three hundred god-chil 
dren. I have a list of their names. When I am on my 
preaching tours I do not find the time to pray for them. 
But when on the Himalayas I pray for them all." Inci 
dentally in one of his addresses he gives a glimpse of 
what this means: "For eight years I was praying for 
one person I knew and it seemed to me at times almost 
useless, but after eight years that man began to think 
and my prayer was answered." 

He was convinced that the prayers of various friends 
in India were really holding him up and helping him in 
what he regarded as the peculiarly difficult and respon 
sible work of delivering his message in England and in 
the English language. He always spoke of them with 
gratitude and regularly wrote, or more often dictated, 
for their encouragement accounts of his experiences. 
When asked to give a Good Friday address in Westmin 
ster Chapel, he took special steps to see that news of 
this meeting which he regarded as a very important 
one should reach India in time for his friends to re 
member him in prayer on that particular day. 

At one time the Sadhu questioned the value of inter 
cessory prayer. "We ourselves are not good. Then 
how can our prayers help others?" But the Book of 



A MYSTIC S WAY 77 

Nature so abundant in its inspiration to him has 
dispelled this doubt. "I saw clouds being formed from 
the vapor which arose from sea-water. I thought that 
as the vapor came from salt water the rain which de 
scended would be salt water too. So I stretched 
out my hand and catching a few drops tasted them, and, 
behold, they were fresh and sweet. The sun having 
shone, the salt had been left behind in the sea. So when 
we pray, thoughts arise up from our hearts like vapor. 
The Sun of Righteousness shines on them and anything 
that is evil is left behind. From the clouds thus formed, 
showers of blessing fall upon the world." 

THE NECESSITY OF PRAYER 

"Once I was sitting on the bank of a river and ob 
served some fish coming up to the surface and opening 
their mouths. I thought that they wanted to cat the 
smaller fish. But an expert in these matters afterwards 
told me that they had to come up to the surface occas 
ionally for air even though they could breathe to a cer 
tain extent under water. Like these fish Christians also 
have to rise from time to time above their daily occupa 
tions in order that they may come into closer contact 
with God, though even while occupied in their work they 
can keep to some extent in touch with Him." 

"When I was coming over on the steamer a very 
learned man said to me, Are you not interested in the 
stars and planets and the men who are sending mes 
sages to Mars? I said, It is interesting, but Mars is 
many millions of miles away from this earth. You are 
going to try and send messages there, but the Creator of 



78 SADHU SUNDAR SINGH 

that star and of yourself is nearer than breathing. Do 
you ever think of praying and sending messages to 
Him! " 

"But what about the business man," we asked, "who 
says he has no time for prayer since he has to hurry 
through his breakfast to rush off to his office ? * * Prayer 
is as important to him as his breakfast, said the Sadhu. 
1 1 How can he get along without prayer any more than he 
can without food ? If he once begins to form the habit of 
prayer he will find so much pleasure in it that he will 
somehow or other find the time for it. ... Prayer is as 
important as breathing. We never say, We have no 
time to breathe. 

He himself finds time for prayer by cutting out many 
things which others think essential. Before a meeting 
he insists on several hours of quiet. If he has to speak 
in the evening he declines invitations to tea or dinner, 
though when he has no engagements of pressing impor 
tance before him he readily accepts such invitations. 
When asked as to what a man should do when he has 
such a short time at his disposal that he must choose be 
tween his newspaper and his Bible, he said, "It is his 
duty to choose the Bible." He himself rarely reads the 
papers. He says, in the first place, he has no time, and, 
in the second place, he is not concerned with politics. 
"I am not greatly interested in Home Rule for India," 
he once confessed, "my Eternal Home is elsewhere." 

Commenting upon the text, "What, could ye not 
watch with me one hour? Watch and pray that ye en 
ter not into temptation." "Why," he said, "does our 
Lord address these words of counsel to Peter? There 
must have been a special reason for this. Peter was the 
one who was going to deny Christ. Christ asked him to 



A MYSTIC S WAY 79 

pray so that he might not enter into that great tempta 
tion. But he wasted that hour and he denied Christ. 
There is a tradition about Peter that he often thought of 
this hour and grieved over it, calling it his thorn in the 
flesh. Christ spent that hour in prayer. His prayer 
was heard and an angel from heaven strengthened Him. 
He obtained the strength needed to die on the Cross. If 
Peter had spent that hour in prayer he might have ob 
tained the strength to overcome his temptation. 

Once on a mountain peak I heard below me the roar 
of thunder and saw flashes of lightning. At first I was 
rather afraid ; but there was no danger to me from them, 
because I was seated above them and they were under 
my feet. In the same way Satan cannot harm the Chris 
tian who, by prayer, lives in the heavenly places with 
Christ." 

DEVOTIONAL HABITS 

The circumstances of the life of a wandering evange 
list do not admit of absolutely regular habits. At times 
the Sadhu will have almost whole days of solitary com 
munion with his Lord and Master. On occasion he has 
spent the whole night praying. At other times he has 
to be content with two hours of devotion in the early 
morning, in England often from five to seven. When he 
can find time he extends these two hours to three or four 
hours. Whenever he is compelled by circumstances to 
omit or unduly curtail his morning meditation he feels 
a certain restlessness and unhappiness throughout the 
day. 

He starts the day by reading a chapter of the Bible, 
at first rapidly, but making a mental note of those verses 
which seem particularly rich and suggestive. Then he 



80 SADHU SUNDAE SINGH 

returns to these verses and lingers over them as long as 
he feels that he is having fruitful thoughts on them. 
Then he spends about fifteen or more minutes in collect 
ing his thoughts in preparation for prayer. Then, as he 
puts it, the Holy Spirit Himself teaches him what to 
pray for, both in regard to himself and in regard to 
others. For prayer he has no one posture. He prays 
sitting, kneeling, sometimes walking. As a Sikh he used 
to prostrate himself in prayer, but now he does not fol 
low this practice. 

"In praying do you generally use words?" we asked. 

"No, the language of prayer is a language without 
words. When God speaks to the soul we have an immedi 
ate apprehension of His meaning, somewhat like what 
occasionally happens in conversation when you know 
what the other man is going to say before he says it. So 
when we have a quiet time God speaks to the soul. His 
thoughts are put directly into our minds without words, 
and very often they are thoughts which are not expres 
sible in words; yet in one minute we may learn in this 
way what we could not learn otherwise in thirty years. 
Hence in private prayer I do not use words, but in large 
gatherings it is necessary to do so." 

He lays great stress on the necessity for stillness and 
waiting on God. "God is quiet, He does not make a 
noise; therefore to understand Him we must be quiet." 
"In the hurry and rush of life God is silent ; we have to 
sit at Christ s feet if we would feel His blessing, and 
then Heaven will be in our heart." "Before Pentecost 
the Apostles had to wait ten days." "To receive great 
blessing from the Holy Spirit there must be great prep 
aration." 

"Philosophers have found that they can think better 






A MYSTIC S WAY 81 

when they are quiet. How much more then must this 
be true of the deeper spiritual things! But those who 
have had no experience think the desire for quiet is 
merely laziness. * 

He prefers to pray alone, when his thoughts can flow 
steadily on with little or no distraction. He finds it hard 
to attain the same measure of concentration when in the 
company of others ; though, frequently, for their sake, he 
has to pray with them. Little movements and shufflings 
seem to disturb him. Somewhat to our surprise he said 
that the Quaker method of silent corporate prayer did 
not particularly help him. 

"When praying do you picture to yourself the figure 
of Christ?" we asked. "I always did so at first," he 
said, "I don t do it so frequently now. His figure 
comes up now and then. It is like the image of Christ 
which I always see in my Ecstasy. Often, and increas 
ingly with the lapse of time, I feel the presence of Christ 
without seeing Him, either with my physical eyes, as in 
the case of the vision before my conversion, or with my 
spiritual eyes, as in the case of my ecstatic experiences. 
As you become like Christ you feel His presence more. 
When we are in a hot country and a cold wind blows, it 
refreshes us very much. So is the presence of Christ to 
me in the midst of work." 

Having in mind the practice of the mediaeval mystics, 
we asked the Sadhu whether he had found the use of the 
Crucifix of value. "Personally," he replied, "I do not 
get much help from the Crucifix, but I think it may be 
useful to children, to beginners and to people engaged 
all the time in worldly business." 

He does not derive much help from the use of written 
prayers. "Prayers by St. Chrysostom and others are 



82 SADHU SUNDAR SINGH 

beautiful but they become mechanical in the course of 
time." He hesitates to use even the Lord s Prayer too 
often lest it become mechanical. Speaking of written 
prayers he says, "The needs of men are in their hearts, 
not in books." He sometimes tells this story: "A man 
was dying. A clergyman called on him but found that 
his prayer-book was not in his pocket. So he hurried 
home to get it. When the clergyman came back the 
man was dead. The people said, Prayers don t seem to 
come out of his heart; they seem to come out of his 
pocket. " 

It is important to indicate his attitude towards the 
Holy Communion. He finds himself at home among 
Christians of all denominations. Now he stays with 
High Anglicans who attend daily Mass, now with Non 
conformists who celebrate the Lord s Supper only oc 
casionally. The nature of his work throws him in con 
tact with Christians of all types of belief and practice, 
and the frequency with which he partakes of the Lord s 
Supper seems to be dependent somewhat on the people 
in whose midst he is living, and also on the time at his 
disposal. "If I had the time I would like to partake of 
it every day. I get great benefit from it." Neverthe 
less, the sense of the presence and companionship of the 
Living Christ is his, quite independently of participation 
in the Eucharist. His doctrine is simple. "I do not be 
lieve that the bread and wine are actually transformed 
into the body and blood of Christ, but their effect on the 
believer is as if they were. There was nothing in the 
brazen serpent that Moses lifted up in the wilderness, 
but it was the obedience of the people that healed them. 
So is it with the Sacrament. By themselves, the bread 
and wine are nothing, but the obedience to the com- 



A MYSTIC S WAY 83 

mandment and the believer s attitude towards them make 
all the difference. 

THE BEGINNER S WAY 

Thinking that not a few of those who have met the 
Sadhu or heard him preach would value some practical 
advice from such a man on the cultivation of the devo 
tional life, we put to him the question: "What advice 
about prayer and meditation would you give to a begin 
ner?" 

"I should tell him to read a chapter, say of St. John, 
and to note the striking texts; then to try and find the 
inner meaning of these texts. This will teach him how 
to concentrate. 

"In the earlier stages of my Christian experience I 
used generally to select one or more texts from the New 
Testament about the love of God, and fix attention on 
them. Such concentration produces the same result as 
the focusing of a magnifying glass on a piece of cloth. 
When we concentrate on spiritual things by fixing our 
thoughts and hearts towards the Sun of Righteousness, 
light and heat from that Sun will fall on all the rubbisli 
of life and burn it. Everything against the will of God 
will thus be destroyed. 

"At different times I have asked converts to Chris 
tianity what it was that led them to Christ. Some have 
quoted, Come unto me all ye that labor and are heavy 
laden and I will give you rest ; others, verses from St. 
Paul. Different texts appeal to different people. So it 
is better to read a whole chapter and to pick out the text 
that appeals to one. 

"But the same method will not suit all men. I knew 



84 SADHU SUNDAR SINGH 

two men who were suffering from the same disease. 
One was from North India and the other from South 
India. I thought the doctor would give them both the 
same medicine, but he did not do so. One came from 
a cold place and the other from a hot place. So he pre 
scribed a different medicine for each, and they were both 
cured. 

"Have you ever seen the Spiritual Exercises of St. 
Ignatius, and do you advise anything like his method?" 
"I have read the book, and I think that his method may 
be a help to others, but it did not help me much. It 
helped me a little, but not as much as my own method 
of meditation. 

"Often we do not spend enough time in prayer; that 
is why we lose strength and power. Sometimes it may 
be necessary to spend more than an hour; early morn 
ing is the best time. First we feel His blessing. After 
wards we find that He is not only blessing us, but teach 
ing us how to pray." 

"Scientists often spend years, sometimes a whole life 
time, in making an important scientific discovery. Then 
how can we expect to discover spiritual beauties by 
spending only five minutes every day in quiet and 
prayer? Some people become tired at the end of ten 
minutes or half an hour of prayer. What would they 
do when they have to spend Eternity in the presence of 
God? We must begin the habit here and become used 
to being with God. 

"If we are going to work for Him He must be with 
us, and only through prayer can that be. 

* There are several strings to a violin. They must be 
tightened if they are to produce a melody. Different 
thoughts are like the different strings. They must be 



A MYSTIC S WAY 85 

tightened, that is, brought into subjection to Christ, and 
then the bow of prayer will produce wonderful songs. 

"If we have not obtained this new life and light al 
ready, let us try to do so forthwith. If we have them, 
let us use them for His glory now. For if we do not use 
His gifts we may lose them for ever. A biologist told me 
that the ostrich was once able to fly, but now it has lost 
its power of flight because it never made use of its 
wings." 

^ But without self-sacrificing service prayer is, in the 
Sadhu s view, of small account. Self-sacrificing service, 
then, is the first and last word of his exhortation! 
" There were twelve apostles and only five loaves; but 
when they were willing to give they found there was 
more than enough for all. It is when we are apparently 
dissipating our strength that people begin to think, 

They are not selfish they have been saved. Our 
Savior says that we are the salt of the earth. Only 
when it dissolves does salt give its savor to other things. 
Suppose we throw some salt into a pot of boiling rice, 
what is the use of the salt if it does not dissolve ? If it 
dissolves its savor spreads through the thousands of 
grains of rice in the pot. Though hidden from sight, 
we know its presence by the taste. Because it dissolves, 
thousands of grains of rice become savory. We likewise 
can save others only by losing ourselves. Otherwise we 
shall become like Lot s wife who became a pillar of salt 
through her love of the world. What is the use of salt 
that does not dissolve?" 



ECSTASY AND VISION 
ESOTERIC CHARACTER 

To the Sadhu, as has been already indicated, the great 
source of illumination, solace and physical refreshment 
is the recurrent state of Ecstasy in which he feels him 
self caught up to what he believes to be the place alluded 
to by St. Paul as "the third heaven" (II Cor. xii. 2). 

"I never try to go into Ecstasy; nor do I advise other 
people to try. It is a gift to be accepted, but it should 
not be sought; if given, it is a pearl of great price. 
During the fourteen years of my life as a sadhu there 
have been many times when, suffering from hunger, 
thirst or persecution, I might have been tempted to give 
it up but for the gift of these times of Ecstasy, but these 
I would not give up for the whole world. * 

Clearly, a study of the Sadhu s religion would be 
gravely misleading which did not include an account of 
experiences to which he himself attaches such impor 
tance. Equally clearly the attempt to give one raises 
grave difficulties. Educated people, unless indeed they 
have studied the lives of the Mystics, are apt to question 
the mental balance of any one who not only sees Visions, 
but takes them seriously. The uneducated, on the other 
hand, especially in the East, may be inclined to regard 
both the seer and his revelations with that kind of super- 

86 



ECSTASY AND VISION 87 

stitious veneration which the Sadhu himself is studiously 
anxious to preclude. 

The Sadhu is quite alive to the danger. In public ad 
dresses he never alludes to his Visions ; he only mentions 
them, and that but rarely, when speaking to friends 
whose discernment and discretion he trusts. Giving an 
explanation of a certain religious difficulty 1 he re 
marked, "This is a thing I often say in preaching, but I 
never say that I heard it in an Ecstasy, because people 
would not understand what I meant without long and 
elaborate explanation." Similarly, after attempting to 
give us an account of the things he had seen, he ex 
plained St. Paul s reticence about what he saw in the 
Third Heaven. "St. Paul was afraid people would mis 
understand his meaning; and that is why he spoke of 
the experience as if it had been not his own but some 
body else s, saying, I know a man in Christ who/ This 
was because he knew that, if he spoke of the Visions as 
his own, people would have come and bothered him by 
asking foolish questions, and would have misunderstood 
the answers he had given them." . . . "lie was very 
wise not to try and tell them," added the Sadhu, with a 
smile that possibly expressed a half misgiving that he 
had been wiser had he imitated the Apostle s silence. 

One friend has advised us to suppress this chapter al 
together, but the Sadhu undoubtedly intended us to 
publish what he told us; and for better or worse the 
rumor is abroad already, and has appeared in print, that 
he does see Visions. Some of these, too, evince a deli 
cacy of feeling and a depth of moral insight which makes 
it a greater responsibility to suppress, than to publish, 
them. In the long run, we feel sure, it will be doing a 
i Cf. p. 195. 



88 SADHU SUNDAE SINGH 

service to his reputation to make public an account of 
at least the most typical and most original of his Visions, 
which is really authentic. This, fortunately, we are in 
a position to do, since, for most of the material, the 
notes taken by one author could be checked by those of 
the other, and a considerable number of them were read 
and passed as correct by the Sadhu himself. 

VISIONS OF THE JEWISH SEERS 

The Sadhu s Visions are of special interest on account 
of the light which they throw on the origin and develop 
ment of the conceptions of Resurrection, Judgment, 
Heaven and Hell. The traditional ideas on these and 
other eschatological questions were, in the main, so re 
cent research has shown developed gradually in a long 
series of Apocalyptic writings of which the earliest con 
siderable instance is the book of Daniel (166 B. c.) and 
the latest which matters for our purpose is the Revela 
tion of Peter written about A. D. 120 and rediscovered 
some years ago in an Egyptian tomb. 1 

Nearly every writer in the series makes some modifica 
tion or adds some detail to the tradition. This revision 
of the tradition always occurs in the form of Visions 
seen by the reputed author of the book or of information 
communicated to him by angelic informants in a 
heavenly sphere. As we have them, the Visions have 
clearly undergone a considerable amount of editing by 
the actual author, and frequently also by later hands; 
but, that the Visions were originally seen as Visions and 

i The best popular account of Apocalyptic Literature is R H. 
Charles s Between the Old and Kew Testaments (Home Univer 
sity Library). 



ECSTASY AND VISION 89 

were for that reason regarded by the authors, as well as 
by the readers, as Divine Revelations, is, in our opinion, 
beyond reasonable doubt. 

Often these Visions take the form of an amplification 
or a new elucidation of some outstanding text or leading 
idea in an Old Testament Prophet or of some Vision of 
an earlier Apocalyptist. They contain much that is 
trivial and much that is fantastic, but, for all that, it 
was through this channel that the great ideas of Judg 
ment and Eternal Life first became established in that 
later phase of Jewish religion out of which Christianity 
arose. The point, however, which it most concerns us 
now to notice is that this revelation or, if one prefers 
to call it so, this discovery was attained to by men of 
intense religious devotion who were passionately seeking 
for some reconciliation of the facts of life with the good 
ness of God. They found it in conceptions of the nature 
of life beyond the grave which, with each generation of 
Apocalyptists, became progressively more satisfactory 
both morally and religiously, than the traditional views 
of their time. 

Now, as has been already pointed out, the Sadhu, like 
the Apocalyptists, largely thinks in pictures; and, in 
general, his world-view on its intellectual side, is in many 
ways far nearer to that of the early Jewish writers than 
it is to ours. He too is faced with the problem of 
reconciling the goodness of God a problem made more 
difficult to him than it was to them, precisely because he 
sees God always in terms of Christ with traditional 
conceptions of the after-life. And to him, as to them, 
difficulties are solved by modifications of traditional 
conceptions which come to him in the form of Visions. 

"St. John," says the Sadhu, "did not use the word 



90 SADHU SUNDAR SINGH 

ecstasy ; he said in the spirit, but he meant the same 
thing. No one would repudiate more vehemently than 
the Sadhu himself any suggestion that his utterances 
should be put on a level with those of Scripture ; but his 
claim to have enjoyed a spiritual experience which, if not 
identical with, is at least closely analogous to that of the 
author of the Apocalypse is, we feel sure, one which de 
serves very serious consideration. But, if so, it follows 
that a study of the Sadhu s experience will throw light 
on the psychological mechanism through and by means 
of which religious truth was mediated to certain of the 
Biblical writers. 

If we bear in mind that Truth is quite a different 
thing from the particular psychological mechanism by 
which it is apprehended, and also that any revelation of 
the Divine must be conditioned by the mental outlook, 
culture and general experience of the recipient, we shall 
not be inclined to deny that Visions may be a genuine 
revelation of truth. All nowadays would admit that 
any conception we may form of the nature of the future 
life must necessarily be of a symbolic character. The 
traditional 1 doctrines of Heaven, Hell and Judgment 
are admitted to be symbolic. The Visions of the Sadhu, 
in so far as they touch on these matters, are no less sym 
bolic; but, if we mistake not, their symbolism is more 
deeply Christian and, if so, they are, by comparison 
with the traditional views, an advance in the apprehen 
sion of Divine truth. 

i By "traditional" I mean the doctrines taught by practically 
all Christian theologians up to fifty years ago. Modern research 
shows that these largely misrepresent the New Testament con 
ceptions. Cf. the essay "The Bible and Hell" in Immortality, ed. 
B. H. Streeter (Macmillan.) 



ECSTASY AND VISION 91 

We are far from maintaining that Visions are the 
only, or even the best, means of attaining to a knowledge 
of religious Truth. Quite the contrary. The majority 
of the Hebrew Prophets, the Psalmist, St. Paul, not to 
mention Christ Himself, seem to have derived very lit 
tle of their teaching from this source. And in regard to 
the eschatological subjects dealt with in the Sadhu s 
Visions, the more valuable of his conclusions have been 
anticipated by liberal theologians solely by the use of 
rational reflection on the philosophical, moral and critical 
issues involved. We read him a passage from a recent 
volume on Immortality which closely resembled some 
thing in one of his Visions, remarking that it was curious 
that the writer should by these methods have reached a 
conclusion so very like that which had been given him 
in a Vision. He replied, "I am not at all surprised. 
Truth is one; but different men may attain it by differ 
ent paths." Just so, all we are concerned to suggest is 
that, to the Sadhu as to the Apocalyptists, truths have 
come by way of Visions, which to men of their tempera 
ment and with their intellectual presuppositions prob 
ably could not have come, or at least not with equal force 
of conviction, in any other way. 

HEAVEN 

There are three Heavens, so it was revealed to the 
Sadhu once in Ecstasy. 

The First Heaven is Heaven on earth that wonder 
ful inward peace and enjoyment of the presence of Christ 
which came as a result of his conversion, and which has 
been described in a previous chapter of this book. 

The Second Heaven is an intermediate state ; it is the 



92 SADHU SUNDAE SINGH 

Paradise of which Christ spoke on the Cross to the re 
pentant thief. Here dwell for a time souls who are not 
yet sufficiently advanced in the spiritual life to enter the 
Third Heaven when they die. Here, as He said to the 
thief, they are with Christ ; but they do not actually see 
Christ, though they feel His influence, as if waves of 
light were proceeding from him, and hear, as it were, a 
heavenly music. 

The Third Heaven is Heaven proper, as it might be 
styled. To this all righteous people will ultimately at 
tain; but it is granted to a certain few, of whom the 
Sadhu is privileged to be one, to make short visits there 
during their earthly life. "I understood," said the 
Sadhu, what St. Paul meant when he said, Whether 
in the body or out of the body I know not/ because 
when I found myself there I seemed to have a body with 
form and shape, but all made, as it were, of light. But 
when I touched it (here he clasped his left arm with his 
hand) I felt nothing. This is what St. Paul speaks of 
as a spiritual body. " "In Heaven I see not with bodily 
but with spiritual eyes, and I was told that these spir 
itual eyes are the same as those which all men will use 
after permanently leaving the body." 

To all the Visions there is a constant background. It 
reflects, indeed it is the convincing proof if further 
proof were needed of the wholly Christocentric charac 
ter of the Sadhu s Mysticism. 

1 1 Christ on His throne is always in the center, a figure 
ineffable and indescribable. The face as I see it in 
Ecstasy, with my spiritual eyes, is very much the same 
as I saw it at my conversion with my bodily eyes. He 
has scars with blood flowing from them. The scars are 
not ugly but glowing and beautiful. He has a beard on 



ECSTASY AND VISION 93 

His face. The long hair of His head is like gold, like 
glowing light. His face is like the sun, but its light 
does not dazzle ine. It is a sweet face, always smiling 
a loving glorious smile. Christ is not terrifying at all." 

"Arid all around the throne of Christ, extending to 
infinite distances, are multitudes of glorious spiritual 
Beings. Some of them are saints, some of them angels. 
These are indistinguishable. The difference, they told 
me, is not important: we are all one here. They all 
look younger brothers of Christ. They are all glorified, 
but His glory is far more glorious than their glory, and 
they differ among themselves in decree of glory, some 
thing like a difference of color, but not quite that. 
Their clothes are, as it were, made of light, not dazzling 
but many-colored. There are more colors there than in 
this world. There is nothing here so beautiful, not even 
diamonds and precious stones. When they speak to me 
they put their thoughts into my heart in a single mo 
ment ; jiiKt as on earth one sometimes knows what a per 
son is going to say before he says it. I did not have to 
learn the language of the spiritual world. When we 
leave the body and enter that world, we speak it as easily 
and naturally as a new-born baby breathes the moment 
it enters this world, though it has not done such a thing 
before." 

"In these visions we have most wonderful talks. This 
is the real Communion of Saints which is spoken of in 
the Apostles Creed. We talk about spiritual things, 
and problems which no one here can solve. This good 
company solves them easily. There are very many 
things which I see and hear there and of which I 
have a clear picture in my mind, but I can t ex 
press them even in Hindustani, much less in English, 



94 SADHU SUNDAR SINGH 

and some of them are things that it would be no use even 
trying to express, because their beauty would be lost if 
they could be taken out of that world and put into this. 
But I always carry with me fresh and vivid memories of 
these things also. Another feature of that world is, that 
one never gets tired of it, one never wants something dif 
ferent. In this world one gets tired after three or four 
hours even at times of the highest experience of peace, 
but one never tires in the heavenly world. At a certain 
convention I attended there was a simple village Chris 
tian who was praying. He was filled with the spirit: 
full of peace and happiness; and, trembling with excess 
of joy, he prayed, Lord, I thank Thee, I thank Thee, but 
no more or I die. Enough! Enough! I was very 
much surprised at his desiring to bring this state to an 
end. Then I thought of the story of Moses and how God 
told him, No man can see my face and live/ and he was 
shown only the back part of the Lord. The spirit can 
stand these exalted experiences, but this body cannot. 7 1 
"There is music, but no musical instrument. I looked 
about for an instrument, but there was none to be seen. 
The thing, however, which is most striking about this 
heavenly world is that I always feel at home. There is 
nothing I could wish otherwise, nothing awkward. I 
was told that if any two persons in that world, however 
far apart, wished to come together, they could do so in a 
moment of thought. I always find myself sitting among 
the others, perfectly familiarly and naturally." 

i We are inclined to think that this last illustration of the 
Sadhu s is somewhat misleading. The sense of exaltation charac 
teristic of a revival meeting seems to us to be really a different 
type of spiritual experience from that which he describes as his 



ECSTASY AND VISION 95 

" Anyone who has been there for one second says to 
himself, * This is the place on which I have set my heart, 
here I am completely satisfied. No sorrow, no pain, only 
love, waves of love, perfect happiness. (As he recalled 
the vision, the Sadhu s face was radiant.) And it is for 
ever, not merely for a thousand years. No one there 
claims any part of it for his own. All say our home. 
No words can express it. I think that is why St. Paul 
said that he heard things unutterable. In that world 
there are many things which correspond to things of 
beauty in this world, mountains, trees and flowers, but 
with all imperfection taken away. The mountains, trees 
and flowers of this earth are only the shadow of what I 
see there. Everything there, even inanimate objects, 
are so made that they continually give praise, and all 
quite spontaneously. I can see millions of miles, I see 
mansions and walls, but these nowhere impede the view, 
and if one is in the midst of a crowd it is the same All 
are in a kind of a way transparent. One can see right 
through people ; so no one hides their love or what is in 
their heart. 

There we realize not only the desires we have known 
in this life, but desires, which we did not even know that 
we had, are opened up and realized, because there is 
everything to satisfy them. There I am satisfied, there 
there is nothing more to ask. It is wonderful ! That is 
our home. 

"I asked one of the Spirits the meaning of the passage 
in St. John : I said, Ye are gods. I was told that man 
has innumerable desires, and that these show that he is 
going to make infinite progress when in Heaven. There 
we have more capacities than we have hairs of our head 
here. 



96 SADHU SUNDAB SINGH 

" Another time I asked what Christ meant by saying, 
Be ye perfect even as your Father in Heaven is perfect. 7 
He did not say Be perfect as the angels or the prophets. 
I had been puzzled by this. Does it mean that we shall 
become God; and, if so, shall we rebel against Him? 
They told me there that God wants us to be equal to Him, 
because Love always wants an object for affection equal 
to itself. Just as men are not satisfied with loving ani 
mals merely, so God wants us to be equal to Him. But if 
we became so, we could not rebel : for we should then have 
an infinite knowledge of the Love of God, and that would 
bring with it infinite thankfulness. There is no jeal 
ousy in Heaven. Our Heavenly Father wants us to be 
made equal to Him. There is no jealousy in Heaven. 
There are differences of degree, but there are no dis 
agreements. Every one is always on every one else s 
side, and those who are low down in the scale feel so 
proud that their elder brothers are so big. 

"In Ecstasy," we asked, "have you ever seen visions 
like those in the Revelation of St. John?" 

"Yes, I have seen many things like the visions at the 
end of Revelation; and I thought when I saw them, Our 
elder brother two thousand years ago has been visiting 
these same places/ " 

"Did you ever see visions like those in the middle 
part of Revelation?" 

"No, never. Only like the end, in particular the pass 
age describing the pure river of water of Life clear as 
crystal, proceeding out of the throne of God and of the 
Lamb. When I saw these things I felt that I wanted to 
fall down and worship those who showed them to me, 
but they said to me, No, worship Him, pointing to 
Christ. 



ECSTASY AND VISION 97 

"I said, Where is the capital of Heaven? . . . Where 
He is sitting? They told me, No, in every heart that 
loves Him, because there He reigns, not by sword or by 
force, but by Love in the heart. If there were no living 
souls there would be no reign. The royal seal is the 
image of Christ in the heart; and where this is in the 
heart it extends at the same time over the whole body. 
St. John says that the Name of the Lamb is written on 
the foreheads of the Saints. I looked, but I did not see 
anything written there, but I saw that their whole face 
looked like that of Christ, so I understood that that was 
what St. John meant." 

"Did you ever see Cherubim or other winged creatures 
such as are described in Ezekiel and in Revelation?" 

"No. I think that when these spoke of winged crea 
tures it was due to the difficulty of finding human 
language to explain what they saw. I saw waves of 
light shining out from the spirits in Heaven, and at first 
these looked rather like wings, but they were not really 
wings. 

"The faces of all the spirits whom I see in Heaven 
look like Christ, but in a lesser degree ; just as the image 
of the Sun is reflected alike in a number of water-pots. 
Christ is the Image of God that image in which God 
created man this is the true image, but it is only im 
perfectly stamped on other men. This explains that 
feeling of recognition of Christ as one known long ago, 1 

i Cf. p. 44. "I felt when first I saw Him as if there were some 
old and forgotten connection between us, as though He had said, 
but not in words, I am He, through whom you were created.* I 
felt something the same, only far more intensely, as I felt when I 
saw my father after an interval of many years. My old love came 
back to me, I knew I had been his before." 



98 SADHU SUNDAE SINGH 

which is experienced by all on their first entry to the 
heavenly state. It shows an original connection be 
tween man and Christ, even though one does not know 
it before. All sinners have within themselves a battered 
image of their Divine Creator, and so when converted they 
recognize and fall down and worship Him. I have had 
no chance of meeting others who have had Ecstasy like 
mine, otherwise I should have liked to ask them about 
this experience of recognition. 

1 ( I once asked how far this heavenly world is from the 
earth. They told me they did not know, but that it only 
took one moment to get there. I was surprised that they 
did not know. 

"Before I became a Christian, whenever I saw anyone 
die, I used to long for a place where there would be no 
more death. I was repelled by the continual round of 
death and rebirth implied in the Hindu doctrine of trans 
migration. The first time I entered Heaven in Ecstasy 
I was quite certain that I had come into a place where 
there was no more death." 

THE RESURRECTION OF THE BODY 

"Did you learn anything about the resurrection of the 
body?" 

"I was told there that Christians leave behind them 
the physical body. That body is buried, but the spir 
itual body that is within is then free to come out, and in 
this we go to the Second or the Third Heaven according 
to our state of development. At least this is true of the 
majority of Christians; but there are grades in the 
spiritual life, and in the case of some few who have lived 
very close to Christ this physical body is slowly changed 



ECSTASY AND VISION 99 

and is taken up into Heaven. It is completely spiritual 
ized, for flesh and blood cannot inherit eternal life, but it 
is the same physical body only completely transformed. 
I asked them whether this applied to Enoch and Elijah, 
who were taken up bodily into Heaven. They told me 
Yes, and that it also applied to Moses, and then they 
pointed out to me Moses and Elijah in Heaven, and they 
told me that they appeared at the Transfiguration in the 
same form and aspect in which I saw them then, for in 
Heaven we no longer change. God buried Moses, but 
they told me God s way of burying is not like ours. It 
is to enfold with a spiritual body. No one can enter 
into Heaven with a physical body, but in the case of those 
few that body is transformed ; and this is what happened 
to the Body of Christ. 

"But the majority of ordinary Christians leave the 
physical body behind and proceed in their spiritual body 
to the intermediate state or Second Heaven. Here they 
stay, some a few days, some a few months, some longer, 
until they are ready for the Third Heaven. Exceptional 
people, however, like St. Francis of Assisi and the author 
of The Imitation of Christ, are already so spiritually ad 
vanced that they enter the Third Heaven at once. 

THE LAST JUDGMENT 

"I inquired once, Will the dead stand in a line all to 
gether and be judged? I was told, No; after leaving 
the body the soul knows everything that has happened 
to it. The memory of it all is clear and fresh, and 
thereby they are judged. The heavenly light shows the 
wicked to themselves ; they see at once that they cannot 
live in that fellowship of saints and angels. They feel 



100 



SADHU SUNDAE SINGH 



so out of place there, they find everything so uncongenial 
that they ask to be allowed to go away from Heaven. 
Men are not turned out of Heaven by God. Heaven is 
not a place- with walls and gates where you have to ask 
for a ticket of admission. The ticket of admission is the 
life a man has led. 

" Those who are born again can see the Kingdom of 
Heaven x and feel at home there, those who are not can 
not do so. This is the real judgment, and it is a 
judgment that is going on every day. It is not ef 
fected by an act of God interposing between ourselves 
and Him, it is internal. The Last Judgment will be a 
proclamation of the final result, when every true servant 
of God will be exalted before the whole creation. 

"I was also told that in this world our spiritual bodies 
are inside our material bodies, and that when we sin it 
is like when we press with a point on paper behind which 
is a sheet of carbon ; on the outside of the paper there is 
a very slight mark, but inside there is a clear black mark. 
Thus our sins mark and scar our spiritual bodies, and the 
result of this will be seen when, after death, the spiritual 
body escapes from the material ; and the revelation of the 
injury it has sustained will in itself be a large part of the 
judgment. 

HELL 

"I was also told that the love of God operates even in 
Hell. God does not shine in His full light, because those 
there could not bear it, but He gradually shows them 
more and more light, and by and by brings them on and 
moves their conscience towards something better, al- 

i The Sadhu appears to interpret the phrase Kingdom of Heaven 
as equivalent to the Third Heaven. 



ECSTASY AND VISION 101 

though they think that the desire is entirely their own. 
Thus God works on their minds from within, something 
in the same way, though in the opposite direction, as 
that in which Satan suggests temptation to us here. 
Thus, what with God s work within and the Light with 
out, almost all those in Hell will ultimately be brought 
to Christ s feet. It will perhaps take millions of ages, 
but when it is attained they will be full of joy and 
thankfulness towards God; though they will still be less 
happy than those who have accepted Christ on earth. 
Thus Hell also is a training school, a place of preparation 
for Home. Those in Hell know that it is not their home 
because they suffer there. Men were not created for 
Hell and therefore do not enjoy it, and, when there, de 
sire to escape to Heaven. They do so, but they find 
Heaven even more uncongenial than Hell, so they re 
turn. But this convinces them that there is something 
wrong in their lives, and thus they are gradually led to 
repentance. At least, that is the case with the majority, 
but there are some few personalities, Satan for instance, 
in regard to whom I was told, Don t ask about them. 
And so I didn t like to ask, but I hoped that for them 
also there was some hope. 

"They also told me that the Saints help in the work 
of saving souls in Hell, because there can be no idleness 
in Heaven. Those in Hell will ultimately be brought to 
Heaven like the prodigal son, but with regard to the ul 
timate fate of a certain number you must not ask." 
The Sadhu is inclined to think that perhaps these few 
will be annihilated. 

"Once I said, So many people will be lost because 
they have not heard of Christ. They said, { The con 
trary will be the case ; very few will be lost. There is a 



102 SADHU SUNDAR SINGH 

kind of heavenly joke, no, joke is not a good word for it. 
Very few will be lost but many will be saved. It is so, 
but don t tell/ they said, as it were, in jest, because it 
will make men careless, and we want them to enjoy the 
First Heaven that is the Heaven on earth as well. 

"If there were no hope for all the non- Christians in 
the world and all the Christians who die in sin, God 
would stop creating men. We must do our part here on 
earth to save sinners, but if they refuse we need not be 
without hope for them. 

The Sadhu s " universalism " recalls the famous 
"Shewing" to Mother Juliana of Norwich, "All manner 
of things shall be well," and her comments thereon 
except that her respect for the authority of the Church 
precludes her making any suggestion how this may be 
possible. 1 The Sadhu faithfully obeys the injunction, 
1 Don t tell. In his popular teachings, as we shall see 
in the next chapter, he stresses the need of repentance, 
and the certainty of immediate judgment in the next 
life, but he never speaks of his hope of ultimate salva 
tion even for the unrepentant. 

OTHER VISIONS 

The Sadhu s visions are not only, or even mainly, con 
cerned with Eschatology. Not a few of the parables 
and arguments he uses in his preaching appear to have 
come to him this way. Sometimes also he finds in 
Ecstasy answers to questions of Scriptural exegesis which 
have puzzled him. 

i Cf . Revelations of Divine Love, ed. G. Warwick, p. 66 f . 
(Methuen). 



ECSTASY AND VISION 103 

We quote an example which is characteristic of the 
man alike in its uncritical simplicity and its fine moral 
insight. "Why did not Abraham pray for Lot? God 
was about to destroy Sodom and Gomorrah. Abraham 
prayed for others. Why did he not pray for his nephew ? 
Why did he not say, Save at least my nephew? It 
was because something was wrong with Lot ; for though 
he had lived in the place for years, he could not make 
even ten men righteous. He had not done his duty. So 
Abraham was ashamed to pray for him ; but God remem 
bered Abraham, and for his sake Lot was saved. In the 
same way Christians may be good, and yet if they are 
not trying to save others Christ will be ashamed to inter 
cede for them as Abraham was ashamed to intercede for 
Lot. But," he added rather curiously, "I don t often 
mention this as there are so many people nowadays who 
do not believe that such men as Abraham and Lot ever 
existed." 

"On another occasion I asked, Whence is Life? I 
was told that the one source of Life is behind everything. 
Our clothes are warm, because the body which they con 
ceal is warm. There is no heat in the clothes, that comes 
from the body within. Just so the life in all living crea 
tures is derived from the one source of Life behind. 
Their life is from the Giver of life. Again, just as 
our body is hidden by our clothes, but the shape of the 
clothes as well as the heat comes from the body inside, 
so all the vegetables and animals that we see are but 
the outward forms upheld by the Giver of life. 

"I saw waves of light and love coming out from Christ, 
in whom dwelleth the fullness of the Godhead embodied. 
These give spiritual life. Also in a mysterious way these 



104 SADHU SUNDAE SINGH 

waves of life and love give life to living creatures of all 
grades. Matter and motion cannot produce life. The 
source of life is life. 

I was told that the waves of light which I saw were 
the Holy Spirit. Just as the moon seems to be straight 
overhead wherever we stand, so the glorious Christ with 
the waves coming out of Him was seen here, there and 
everywhere. I saw crowds of people with glorious 
bodies, all saying, "He is near me, He is near me. 

THE NATURE OF THE ECSTATIC STATE 

The student of Mysticism will desire some further 
materials if he is to form a scientifically considered esti 
mate of the nature and significance of the Sadhu s Vis 
ions. Accordingly we now proceed to set forth in de 
tail the Sadhu s own account of the nature of the ecstatic 
state. 

"A friend once asked, What is Ecstasy? I said, 
There are pearls in the sea, but to get them you have 
to dive to the bottom. Ecstasy is a dive to the bottom 
of spiritual things. It is not a trance; but it is like a 
dive, because, as a diver has to stop breathing, so in 
Ecstasy the outward senses must be stopped. 

1 Whenever I am alone always something new comes to 
me, and that in a language without words; I feel sur 
rounded, as it were, with a wonderful atmosphere, then 
something speaks in my heart, then I am in the state of 
Ecstasy. No words are spoken, but I see all pictured; 
in a moment problems are solved, easily and with pleas 
ure, and with no burden to my brain. 

In his early days as a Christian, Ecstasy ^was a com 
paratively rare occurrence. Now, although he does not 



ECSTASY AND VISION 105 

know beforehand when he will enter into it, it is an al 
most everyday experience or rather it might be so, did 
he not hold himself back. If he thought only of his own 
pleasure he would spend all his life thus with Christ, but 
he wants to help men. Ecstasy commonly ensues after 
about twenty minutes of prayer and meditation some 
times while on his knees but more often in a sitting 
posture. 

This frequency of the Sadhu s Ecstasies is a notable 
fact. So far as our information goes, with the Biblical 
writers and with most of the great Saints, Visions and 
Revelations were of comparatively rare occurrence. 

While in the state of ecstasy, which sometimes lasts for 
several hours, he loses all perception of the external 
world; l and he has no sense of the lapse of time, "there 
is no past and no future ; everything is present. 

Once a friend whom I had told not to disturb me if 
he found me in Ecstasy came in and found me with eyes 
wide open smiling and all but laughing: not knowing I 
was in Ecstasy he spoke to me, but as I did not hear him 
he desisted and told me about it afterwards. On another 
occasion I went into Ecstasy under a tree. When I 
came back to ordinary life I discovered that I had been 
stung all over with hornets, so that my body was all 
swollen, but I had felt nothing." 

Once he was announced to speak at a meeting at eight 
o clock in the morning. He began his prayer about 
five o clock in the morning and involuntarily entered the 
ecstatic state. When he came out of Ecstasy he found 
it was nine o clock. He had forgotten all about the 
meeting. The people, who had gathered in large num- 

i This fact is vouched for by more than one friend of the Sadhu 
with whom we have discussed the matter. 



106 SADHU SUNDAR SINGH 

bers to hear his message, were wondering why he, who 
was generally so punctual, did not appear. After a 
while they dispersed with disappointment. He was very 
sorry that this should have happened, though he did not, 
or rather could not, explain to them the reason. "I do 
not generally speak of these experiences to others, be 
cause they would not understand me, but think I am 
foolish." While in cities he is very careful and checks 
himself from "slipping" to use his own phrase into 
Ecstasy. On the Himalayas, with more leisure at his 
command and with no definite appointments before him, 
there is no need for this restraint. 

"Do you find," we asked, "that you more often go into 
an Ecstasy when you are feeling physically strained and 
tired or when you are physically fresh ? 

"Both. Perhaps more often when physically fresh; 
but if it happens to me when I am physically strained 
and tired out, or, as I recollect on more than one occa 
sion, when I was feeling despondent because people had 
refused to listen to my preaching, the result is that I feel 
completely refreshed and invigorated. This is another 
of the reasons which proves to me that it is not an ordi 
nary trance. "When I used to practice Yoga there was 
no permanent refreshment, though the trance might be 
temporarily comforting. Indeed the great contrast be 
tween the state of Ecstasy and the Yogic states which I 
cultivated before becoming a Christian lies in the fact 
that in Ecstasy there is always the same feeling of calm 
satisfaction and being at home, whatever had been my 
state of mind before going into Ecstasy. Whereas in 
the Yogic state, if before the trance I was feeling sad, I 
used to weep in the trance, if cheerful I would smile. 
Also after an Ecstasy I always feel strengthened, invig- 



ECSTASY AND VISION 107 

orated and refreshed. This result did not follow Yoga. 

"The object of the Yogic trance is not to satisfy the 
heart but the head. 

"The state of Ecstasy is not, as I believe Yoga to be, 
the result of self -hypnotism. I never try to get into it. 
Nor do I think on the same subject for an hour together 
in order to induce the state, as those do who practice 
Yoga. 

"Ecstasy is not a disease or a form of hallucination. 
It is a waking, not a dream state. I can think in it 
steadily. At normal times the flow of my thoughts is 
disturbed by distractions, but not in the ecstatic state. 
Generally a thought remains in my mind only for a min 
ute, being quickly followed by other thoughts ; whereas, 
in the state of Ecstasy, I am able to think for a long time 
on the same subject. I am inclined to believe that this 
is because in that state the mental activities are no longer 
impeded by the material brain. 

"While in Ecstasy I think on such themes as the love 
of God, and at the same time listen to spirits, espe 
cially the Holy Spirit, as they talk to me. 

"When I come back to my body I find a great differ 
ence between what I have seen in Ecstasy and what I 
here see bodily with my eyes. 

"Often when I come out of Ecstasy I think the whole 
world must bo blind not to see what I see, everything is 
so near and so clear." 

Occasionally he meets in Heaven people he has known 
On earth. 

"Once in Ecstasy I saw a man with a glorious body. 
He was very happy. He asked me, Do you recognize 
me? I said, No/ Don t you remember seeing me? 
I said, No. Then he said, I was in a Leper Asylum 



108 SADHU SUNDAR SINGH 

which you visited. On account of leprosy I had lost my 
fingers and my face was disfigured. Now I am no more 
a leper. I have received this glorious life through Jesus 
Christ. I left that body and entered into this life on 
February 22, 1908. Afterwards I verified the facts 
and found them to be true. He had died on the day and 
at the place mentioned in the vision." 

One is reminded by this last incident of the famous 
story of the Monk of Evesham, who went into a trance 
lasting three days, during which he reported that his 
spirit had visited Heaven, Hell and Purgatory. In Pur 
gatory he saw the soul of a certain Abbess whose death 
had taken place during those three days, although news 
of it had not yet reached Evesham at the time he re 
ported what he had seen. His contemporaries regarded 
this as conclusive evidence that his spirit had actually 
been into Purgatory where, of course, the lady s soul 
would then be. The facts, however, admit another in 
terpretation. Certain individuals, when in a state of 
trance, are peculiarly susceptible to telepathic influ 
ences. If the monk was one of these, thought transfer 
ence, either from the dying Abbess herself or from her 
entourage, would explain his knowledge of her death and, 
by implication, therefore, of her present whereabouts. 

"You have explained," we said, "that hearing what 
is spoken in the spirit world is quite a different thing 
from earthly hearing. Is there the same kind of differ 
ence between heavenly and earthly seeing?" 

This was obviously a question the answer to which 
was perfectly clear in the Sadhu s own mind, but it was 
one that he felt could not be expressed in human lan 
guage or by analogies drawn from this world. The im 
pression which he conveyed was that the analogy be- 



ECSTASY AND VISION 109 

tween spiritual and bodily seeing was rather closer than 
that between spiritual and bodily hearing which he had 
previously described. The visions and pictures seen in 
that world are like things seen in this, but with a differ 
ence. "When in this world we see mountains, trees and 
flowers, we see and admire. In the world also we see 
and admire objects of the same sort, only there a kind of 
force comes from them which gives one an impulse to 
praise the Creator of it all, and that without any kind of 
effort, but simply as a spontaneous expression of the full 
ness of joy. In this world when I see flowers and other 
beautiful things, I admire, but they are passive. But in 
the spiritual world which I visit in Ecstasy it is the other 
way round. They are active, I am passive. 

We tried to discover whether the Sadhu was conscious 
of any development in the type or quality of his Visions. 
But except for the fact that since the Fast they had be 
come more frequent there seems to have been little 
change. Indeed he himself regards the richness of the 
revelations he received at a time when his own Christian 
experience was immature as a proof that the knowledge 
so obtained is derived from an external source and is not 
merely a dream product of his own mind. 

AN UNIQUE PHENOMENON 

In the Sadhu s account of his Ecstasies there are two 
important points which it will suffice to recall without 
further comment the frequency of their occurrence, and 
the fact that they are never followed by exhaustion but 
always by refreshment, both physical and mental. There 
are four others which demand consideration. 

First, there is one feature in which his experiences dif- 



110 SADHU SUNDAR SINGH 

fer from those of the Apocalyptic writers and to the 
best of our knowledge of the Western Mystics in gen 
eral. The Sadhu does not in Ecstasy either travel from 
place to place himself, visiting Hell in person, for in 
stance, nor does he see a series of vividly dramatic pic 
tures of which the interpretation is either obvious at once 
or is given by an angel interpreter. One might say, in 
deed, that he has only a single Vision the Third Heaven 
a Vision evidently including within itself an inexhaus 
tible variety yet always essentially the same. The in 
formation and ideas which are communicated to him in 
Ecstasy are not presented as separate- visions but rather 
as verbal communications from different spirits whom he 
meets on different occasions within the circuit, so to 
speak, of the one great constant Vision. 

Secondly, the Sadhu is far more concerned than are 
the Apocalyptic writers to affirm and reaffirm the in 
effable character of his experience the words are words 
but they are neither heard nor spoken, the sights are 
seen and yet not as if with eyes. There is no language 
which will express the things which I see and hear in 
the spiritual world, I am like a dumb man who can taste 
and enjoy the sweets that are given him, but cannot ex 
press or explain it to others." He is not only aware, 
but is urgent to insist, that the sights and words he re 
ports are but a shadowy reflection of the reality in 
other words, that they are essentially symbolic. 

Thirdly, Ecstasy to him is not, he says, a dream state 
by which he means a state in which haphazard discon 
nected scenes and events pass meaninglessly by but a 
waking state, a state of concentrated capacity of thought, 
of clearer and more continuous thought than he is capa 
ble of in ordinary life. The fact that in Ecstasy he can 



ECSTASY AND VISION 111 

be so unconscious of external things as not to feel, for 
instance, the sting of hornets, confirms this statement. 
From sleep one can be easily awakened ; but his Ecstasy 
is evidently, in its psychological aspect, a state of what 
is called "temporary dissociation" and it is one charac 
terized by intense concentration of thought and emotion. 
We may compare Wordsworth s lines well known, 
not equally, perhaps, well understood in which he 
speaks of an apparently frequent and highly valued ex 
perience of his own in language every word of which 
might have been used by the Sadhu to describe his 
Ecstasy : 

. . . another gift, 

Of aspect more sublime; that blessed mood, 
In which the burden of the mystery, 
In which the heavy and the weary weight 
Of all this unintelligible world, 
Is lightened: that serene and blessed mood, 
In which the affections gently lead us on, 
Until, the breath of this corporeal frame 
And even the motion of our human blood 
Almost suspended, we are laid asleep 
In body, and become a living soul : 
While with an eye made quiet by the power 
Of harmony, and the deep power of joy, 
We see into the life of things. 1 

Fourthly, this concentration of thought and emotion 
is consummated in Visions in which in the center of the 
picture there is always Christ. Always as a dominant 
impression is the consciousness of being with Christ and 
of receiving from Him enhancement of insight, vitality 
and power. Not only are thought and feeling intense, 

i Lines an, T intern Albey. 



112 SADHU SUNDAR SINGH 

but all along the whole being is focused on the concept 
of the Living and Eternal Christ. 

The literature of Mysticism, Eastern and Western, is 
so vast that even those who have spent a life-time in its 
study can generalize on the subject only under correc 
tion; and the authors of this volume have no claim to 
speak as experts. But it is perhaps not too rash to 
affirm that, although parallels to each of the six fea 
tures we have noted above could probably be found in 
some previous Mystic, Eastern or Western, their con 
junction in a single individual is unique. But, if so, 
what is the explanation? It is not enough to say that 
every Mystic is in a sense unique. Yer} tentatively we 
hazard a suggestion. India is the land of Mystics, but 
the Sadhu is the first Indian or rather the first whose 
experience we have on record to become a Christocen- 
tric Mystic. We should expect that Christian Mysticism 
when naturalized in India would take a new and char 
acteristically Indian form. 

THE IDEA AND ITS SYMBOL 

A study of the recorded visions of Mystics and 
Apocalyptists leads one to emphasize the fundamental 
importance of the distinction between their content, that 
is, the idea or value apprehended, and the form or sym 
bol in which they are expressed. We note also that the 
form and the content of a vision are respectively derived 
from, and conditioned by, entirely different elements 
in the mentality and experience of the individual who 
sees it. The form assumed by a vision would appear to 
depend partly on the dramatic quality of the mind of 
the subject, partly on the nature of the materials from 



ECSTASY AND VISION 113 

which to build up its symbols that are provided by his 
previous experience and environment. In the Sadhu s 
case these materials are largely derived from that study 
of the Bible on which his emotions as well as his in 
tellect have been concentrated so long. But the con 
tent of a vision is determined by quite other factors. 
First, the intellectual, ethical and religious insight of 
the seer behind which, in the Sadhu s case, lies a life 
time of thought, prayer and sacrificing service. Sec 
ondly, the degree to which there are concentrated all the 
highest faculties of the soul, thought, love, aesthetic per 
ception, on the problem which the vision solves. Thirdly, 
the extent to which all this takes place at a time when 
the whole personality is lifted up and inspired by in 
tense conscious communion with the Divine to the 
Sadhu, then as always, visualized and realized under the 
image of the Eternal Christ. 

The form of the Sadhu s visions is beautiful and ap 
propriate. But the degree of spiritual truth which they 
convey, their validity as inspired intuitions concerning 
the nature of inexpressible realities, their value as revela 
tion, if you like to put it so, depends entirely on the 
three factors which have determined their content. The 
Visions are of value, not because they are visions, but be 
cause they are the Sadhu s visions ; and that, not merely 
because the Sadhu has an intuitive genius for things re 
ligious and is a man of prayer, but because in thought, 
word and deed he has lived a consistent life which has 
developed in him a personality completely unified; an I, 
lastly, not even because of this alone, but because they are 
the visions of the Sadhu in deep conscious communion 
with his Lord. 

Did space allow we should go on to argue that exactly 



114 SADHU SUNDAR SINGH 

the same psychological principles have determined the 
form, and exactly the same factors of personal charac 
ter and concentrated devotion account for the value (a 
value which, we should hold, is not the same in all cases) 
of the visions recorded in the Bible. We should connect 
this with the conception of Inspiration as being essen 
tially a hyper-stimulation of the natural faculties of 
insight and understanding, which, in men of high ideals 
schooled by the discipline of a noble life, must inevitably 
follow from personal communion with a personal Divine. 
And, lastly, we should urge that the supreme degree of 
Inspiration which characterizes the great Hebrew writ 
ers is mainly conditioned by their standard of conduct 
sane, stern, but, for that age, humane by their intense 
concentration of interest on moral and religious issues, 
and by their deep experience of communion with the 
Divine. 1 



DIVINE GUIDANCE 

"The visions which you have described so far all give 
answers to theological questions. Were you ever," we 
asked, "given in a vision the solution to a practical 
problem which perplexed you as, for instance, what is 
the next thing to be done?" In reply the Sadhu told 
the following story : 

"Once when traveling in the Himalayas, I set out for 
the village of Rampur. I came to a place where two 
roads branched. I was not sure which was the road to 
Rampur. I took one of them and after walking a long 

i These conceptions are worked out in the essays by Mr. Emmet 
on The Psychology of Power and The Psychology of Inspiration in 
The Spirit, ed. B. H. Streeter. (Macmillan). 



ECSTASY AND VISION 115 

distance I realized that I had chosen the wrong one. If 
I wanted to return I should have to walk back eleven 
miles. Distressed at the mistake, I went into the neigh 
boring village of Nalthora. A local shopkeeper beck 
oned to me. When I went to him he hid the Hindi New 
Testament he had in his hand, thinking that I was a 
Hindu Sannyasi. After conversing a while he said to 
me, What do you think of Jesus Christ? He is my 
Saviour/ I said. Do not be troubled, he replied joy 
fully, at having lost your way and come here. For some 
time I have been studying these Gospels. I have many 
doubts and difficulties. I have been praying that the 
Lord would send me some one who would clear them up. 
He has brought you here in answer to my prayer. We 
continued late into the night talking about Christ, and 
I spent the next day also with him. His doubts were 
cleared away and he believed in Christ. Later on he 
was baptized. In this way God guides us when we 
entrust ourselves to him. We may think that we have 
lost our way. But He will take us to places where we 
are needed and so save souls." 1 

This did not exactly meet our question, so we repeated 
it later on and got a more direct reply. 

"I have sometimes asked what will happen if I do so 
and so. I was told not to worry about the future. The 
future is in my good Father s hands. I must not worry 
about it, but do my present work. I shall probably be 
given twenty-four hours 7 notice of my death; and the 
spirits that I see in Heaven will come to meet me and 
conduct me there. I should myself like thus to have time 
to tell my friends beforehand of my death ; like St. Paul 

i We afterwards found the story in the Tamil addresses, and 
have reproduced it from that version. 



116 SADHU SUNDAR SINGH 

my desire is to go away and be with Christ, but I wish 
also to stay here for the sake of those I can help. 

"It will be a great thing at the time of death to be 
met by the saints from Heaven. The same dear friends I 
have so often met in Ecstasy will come and fetch me and 
will lead me there. Just as kind friends in London lead 
me or I should get lost." 

Perhaps even this reply, being mainly relevant to the 
particular problem of preparation for death, did not 
quite give the information we were seeking. We feel 
certain, however, that, while the Sadhu relies enor 
mously on guidance in answer to prayer, such guidance 
does not come to him, any more than to the generality 
of Western Mystics, by way of explicit directions in the 
state of Ecstasy. This has been more or less implied by 
many little things he has said in conversation ; and seems 
to be clearly expressed in the following answer to a 
question we put him on another occasion: "How do you 
find out the will of God?" "Those who live with God 
have no difficulty in finding out God s will. Christians, 
who spend little time with God and are mainly con 
cerned with the things of this world, may be perplexed. 
Men may find out God s will by their own convictions 
and feelings or by circumstances. Men who live with 
God have strong convictions that such and such is the 
will of God. They love and know the Father and there 
fore they know His will." "Have you ever done any 
thing which you thought was the Father s will, but af 
terwards found out to be your own will?" "No, for in 
stance, fourteen years ago I became a sadhu under the 
conviction that it was my Father s will. I still believe 
it to be my Father s will." 



ECSTASY AND VISION 117 



THE AUTHORITY OF THE CHURCH 

Medieval Mystics often submitted their Visions to 
their confessor, and, on his report of their orthodoxy or 
value, decided whether they had come from God and 
should be published, or had come from Satan and should 
be suppressed. Accordingly we asked the Sadhu, "If 
ever anything which has been told you in Ecstasy seems 
to conflict with the traditional teaching of the Church, 
which authority do you prefer? * 

"There are not in the Church enough men of the 
deepest spiritual experience to give final authority to 
what its teachers say. So I go direct to God. The 
Creeds were made by men who had spiritual experience, 
as is shown by their reference to the "Communion of 
Saints"; but now the people who repeat them have not 
the same rich experience. With me a revelation in 
Ecstasy counts for more than Church tradition. 
Churchianity and Christianity are not the same thing. 
John Wesley and General Booth followed God s guid 
ance in opposition to the Church, and they proved to be 
right. Every one, however, is not a mystic, so the au 
thority of Church tradition is necessary for the majority. 
Roman Catholics have gone too far in one direction, some 
Protestants in the other. But it is not enough to be a 
member of the Church, one must also be a member of 
Christ. " 

THE DANGERS OP ECSTASY 

"Since Ecstasy means so much to you," we asked, "do 
you recommend the ordinary Christian to try and attain 
to it?" 



118 SADHU SUNDAE SINGH 

"No. Prayer is for every man and so is Meditation. 
If it is God s Will that he go further, God will lead 
him that way. If not, let him be content to stay at the 
stage of simple prayer. 

"No longer now, but frequently some years ago, be 
fore getting into the state of Ecstasy, I used to hear 
voices and that with these ears (that is, not in the spir 
itual language of the heavenly world), and see lights or 
hear music, and I found out that this was due to Satan or 
some evil spirit. Sometimes it was as if there were sharp 
needles pricking me; and I saw light, but not a real 
light. I think there is something in the heart which 
enables one instinctively to judge whether such experi 
ences are of God or not. I somehow felt that these were 
not from God. As soon as I heard the voice I recognized 
that it was not Christ s voice. The sheep hear His 
voice and recognize it. Mary thought that the man 
she saw in the garden was the gardener, but as soon as 
He began to speak she knew that it was Christ. Some 
times I felt a sort of heat, but there was no joy in it, 
and I found these experiences were a hindrance to my 
getting into the true Ecstasy. I recognized that they 
were not real. The fort, that is the heart, was not 
reached by them. Satan sometimes merely whispers; 
sometimes his words are clear. Sometimes he says, You 
are wrong, this is not the way ; You have left Truth 
behind ; You are a sinner, you cannot be saved. When 
I listened to the voices I felt troubled. When I prayed 
to the Lord to help me everything stopped, the heat, the 
whispering, the shiverings, and the prickings. Then I 
said, These things were from Satan, this other (that is, 
the true Ecstasy which followed) is from my Lord who 
slopped them. 



ECSTASY AND VISION 119 

"Unless a man lives very close to Christ these pre 
liminary states would be enough to deceive him. Even 
Christians and genuine seekers after truth, who have 
been the prophets of other religions, have been thus 
deceived. In this way false religions have arisen. 
Their founders thought that divine voices were speaking 
to them when it was really devils. But, if they had 
taken no notice of these preliminary voices and gone on 
beyond, they might have attained the true Ecstasy. 
Mystics should be very careful about these things, espe 
cially beginners. Those who have been living in the 
world very naturally think that these experiences are 
great things because they have seen nothing like them 
before, but they come from Satan or from other beings 
of the lower spirit world." 

The Sadhu here mentioned the names of certain the- 
osophists and other well-known persons both dead and 
alive whom he believed to have been deluded by these 
false spirits, hinting, however, that it might be unwise 
for us to print them. * These spirits know something of 
the future but not a great deal. Just as in India we 
can prophesy what the weather will be like for some 
weeks ahead, so the lower spirits, through their superior 
knowledge of the tendency of things, can prophesy events 
a short time ahead, and this helps them in deceiving men. 
Prophets inspired by God can prophesy things many 
many years ahead. That is the difference. 

1 It is these spirits of the lower spirit world with 
which spiritualists get into contact. From them spirit 
ualists get interesting things, but they are ultimately 
deceived by the spirits who begin by giving them ninety- 
nine things that are true and one that is false, and grad 
ually increase the proportion of false and decrease the 



120 SADHU SUNDAR SINGH 

true until they lead people on to atheism or some other 
false position. The truly spiritual man has that within 
him which feels an instinctive antipathy to the kind of 
things which are told him by spirits of the lower world. 
If we seek only what is interesting, we shall never reach 
as far as the real higher spirit world. 

The Catholic Mystics repeatedly assert that if you 
seek for visions you will get them but they will be sent 
you by the Devil, not by God. The Sadhu s opinion, we 
have seen, is much the same. But there are degrees of 
seeking. It is the lesson of modern psychology that in 
this matter it is better not even to desire. 

It is very easy as the history of Theosophy and Spir 
itualism, ancient and modern, shows for people of a 
certain temperament consciously or accidentally to ac 
quire the art of slipping into a trance-state and then 
seeing Visions full of curious information on the nature 
of the Universe, spheres of existence, the life to come. 
But the form of such Visions, at any rate in the main, 
comes from the thoughts and experiences, the tastes and 
the studies of a man s waking life ; the content, that is, 
its intellectual and spiritual quality, will depend on the 
quality of his own mind. A mind untrained in accurate 
thought, undisciplined by the moral effort to realize in 
practical life a stern and noble ideal, will be reflected 
in visions commonplace, melodramatic or bizarre, their 
form suggested by its favorite literature or meditation. 
If the visionary takes these seriously as evidence of a 
special personal gift of supernatural knowledge, and 
further if he, or she, has a little circle of admirers whose 
subtle flattery will encourage still more and more elab 
orate flights of fancy, then before he knows it he will 
be well on the way of a rake s progress of intoxicated 



ECSTASY AND VISION 121 

vanity soon to be the founder or the hierophant of 
some esoteric cult. 

There is another reason for mistrusting dreams and 
visions. Modern medical Psychology has proved that 
the dream life is the expression of thoughts and emo 
tions which have penetrated into the subconscious re 
gions of the mind. Some dreams may be the expression 
of thoughts and emotions connected with the higher in 
terests of the conscious self, which have penetrated deep 
into the subconscious. 1 But dreams often tell a different 
tale. In our waking hours the tiger and the ape are 
more or less held in check by conscience, training, social 
convention. But the dreams are the holiday-time for the 
egoist, the sensualist or the craven that lives in most of 
us. The mechanism of dream symbolism enables these 
hidden passions, while finding expression for themselves, 
to disguise their true nature from conscious recognition. 
And this disguise is habitually effected with an ingenuity 
and a cunning which no one who has not studied long 
and carefully the recent researches of Psychology would 
regard as credible. So long as we regard dreams as 
merely dreams this does not matter. Indeed it is prob 
able that dreams are often a kind of safety valve of the 
greatest value, enabling the personality to rid itself in 
harmless fantasies of passion which, without such outlet, 
would too insistently demand expression in word or act 
in waking life. But if we regard them as channels of 
revelation the case is altered. 

i The strong disciples of Freud deny that any dream can be 
concerned with the higher interests of the waking self; but, for 
tified by what seems to me convincing evidence and not without 
some support from expert medical opinion, I am bold to make the 
assertion. B. II. S. 



122 SADHU-SUNDAR SINGH 

A man like the Sadhu has led a life of thought and 
prayer and of willing suffering for Christ s sake, which 
has remolded him to the very depths of heart and soul ; 
in him subconscious and conscious alike have become 
completely consecrated to the Master; in him the tiger 
and the ape are all but subjugated ; yet more important, 
even in ecstatic trance mind and soul are still directed 
wholly upon Christ, so that with him the mechanism of 
thought and of expression is Christ-controlled in Ecstasy 
as it is in normal life. 

To him Ecstasy may not only be without danger but 
may bring actual profit. It is not so with the rest of 
us. The light that we must walk by is the light of 
conscious thought, with prayer and meditation. The 
specious Visions and Revelations which come by the easy 
path of a facile trance-practice, whether in ourselves or 
others, we are mistaken to admire, we are demented if we 
seek. 

The story is told that Said, the servant of Muham 
mad, once came to his master with an enthusiastic ac 
count of an Ecstasy he had enjoyed : 

In that hour 

All past eternity and all to come 
Was gathered up in one stupendous Now, 
Let understanding marvel as it may, 
Where men see clouds, on the ninth heaven I gaze, 
And see the throne of God. All heaven and hell 
Are bare to me and all men s destinies. 
The heavens and earth, they vanish at my glance, 
The dead rise at my look. I tear the veil 
From all the worlds, and in the hall of heaven 
I sit me central, radiant as the Sun." 



ECSTASY AND VISION 123 

Then spake the Prophet, "Friend, thy steed is warm: 

Spur him no more. The mirror in thy heart 

Did slip its fleshly case, now put it up 

Hide it once more, or thou wilt come to harm." l 

i Cf. F. Max Muller, Theosophy or Psychological Religion, p. 348. 



VI 

SUFFERING, SIN AND JUDGMENT x 
KARMA 

BOTH the degree of originality and the full significance 
of the Sadhu s teaching on Suffering, Sin and Judgment 
will escape us unless we see them in their relation, on the 
one hand to the conception of the Wrath of God, which 
still largely dominates traditional Christian teaching, 
and on the other to the Hindu doctrine of Karma. 

The Sadhu believes firmly in retribution. But he 
regards this as being brought about by an internal ne 
cessity, an inevitable degeneration of the personality 
which brings its own punishment in that it completely 
incapacitates for the life of Heaven. He does not regard 
it as the expression of the Divine anger, for God to him 
is wholly seen in Christ, and, to recall a saying of his 
already quoted, "Jesus Christ is never annoyed with 
anybody. 

"As men have chosen sin, they must die in sin. God 
does not bring about this death. God sends no one to 
hell. The sinner himself brings this punishment down 
on himself. Let us look at the case of Judas Iscariot. 
When he betrayed the Lord, Pilate did not hang him, nor 

i The greater part of the materials for this chapter have been 
taken from the Tamil collection of the Sadhu s address. 

124 



SUFFERING, SIN AND JUDGMENT 125 

did the High Priest, nor did our loving Savior, nor did 
the Apostles. He hanged himself. He committed sui 
cide. He died in his sin. This is the end of him who 
lives in sin." 

But the Love of God is always there, ready to inter 
vene and to counteract the retributory process. But 
God does not effect this by an arbitrary and external 
" forgiveness, " a mere remission of penalty; He works 
by changing the heart and thereby curing the moral 
disease which is at the root of sin. Only man must 
repent. 

The doctrine of Karma teaches that any sorrow, mis 
fortune, degradation or disease from which the indi 
vidual may now be suffering is an exact and just retribu 
tion for some sin committed by him or her in a previous 
incarnation. This comes about through an automatically 
working law of cause and consequence. And by the 
same law every sin we commit in this life will be paid 
for by an equivalent in suffering when we return to earth 
in our next reincarnation. Necessarily this doctrine 
can admit no remission of sin. 1 

The Sadhu s insistence that retribution is automatic 
and is not to be ascribed to the Divine Wrath is inspired 
by his passionate apprehension of the Love of God. In 
support of it he appeals to certain passages in St. John s 

i Popular Hinduism provides various ways of obtaining remis 
sion of sins, such as bathing in certain waters, especially at par 
ticular festivals. But this can only be reconciled with the doc 
trine of Karma by attributing an ethical value to non-ethical ob 
servances which completely deprives that doctrine of its title to be 
regarded as the expression of a passionless justice. But it is pre 
cisely the moral appeal which the idea of passionless justice makes 
to many minds which gives to the doctrine of Karma its chief 
claim to be taken seriously. 



126 SADHU SUNDAE SINGH 

Gospel. But, though the doctrine is certainly predomi 
nant in this Gospel, it may be doubted whether the Sadhu 
would have found it there so easily had he not been al 
ready familiar with the doctrine of Karma. If this be 
so, it is one little instance of the way in which, as West- 
cott prophesied, India, if converted, will bring new light 
to the interpretation of St. John. Yet, even within the 
conception of an automatic retribution, there is still a 
subtle but important difference between the Sadhu s 
doctrine and the idea of Karma. To the Sadhu retribu 
tion is the result of an internal change, organic to the 
personality. Karma represents it as dependent upon 
circumstances predominantly external. 

But the same conviction of the love of Christ which 
makes the Sadhu adopt an almost Indian conception 
of retribution causes him emphatically to reject other 
aspects of the doctrine of Karma, in particular, its nega 
tion of the possibility of forgiveness and its conception 
of suffering as necessarily penal. Of the two it is the 
latter against which he more frequently protests, since, 
in spite of the book of Job and the teaching of our Lord, 
it is also potent in popular Christianity. Here again he 
can appeal to the authority of St. John, " Neither did 
this man sin nor his parents; but that the works of God 
should be made manifest in him." But his Philosophy 
of the Cross is also here involved. To endure slights, ill- 
usage or bodily pain is to share the cross of Christ. To 
endure them nobly and without resentment is to repro 
duce His character and therefore silently to proclaim 
His message and His power. Hence, to the Sadhu, suf 
fering is not a penalty; it is sometimes a medicine, al 
ways an opportunity. 



SUFFERING, SIN AND JUDGMENT 127 

SUFFERING 

God is Love, and therefore He will not punish. I 
do not agree with those who say that sickness and mis 
fortune are punishments. They are what I should call 
the loving slap. A doctor was telling me of an experi 
ence he had. Before a child is born it cannot breathe, 
but as soon as it is born it breathes. But it is necessary 
for the child to cry. If the child does not cry his lungs 
are contracted and he dies. One child was unable to 
breathe when he was born and within a few minutes 
would have died. So the nurse gave him a slap. The 
mother must have thought: She came to help me, but 
she is killing my son. It is only a few minutes since 
he was born and now she is giving him a slap. Through 
that slap she made the child cry. When the child began 
to cry he began to breathe. Just so God sometimes gives 
1is a loving slap. 

"Once while coming down a mountain I sat down in 
the porch of a house. A strong wind began to blow. A 
little bird came along helplessly driven by this wind. 
From another direction a hawk swooped down on the 
little bird to make a prey of it. The little bird, faced by 
danger from two directions, fell into my lap. This bird 
never likes to come to men and yet it sought refuge with 
me in the day of trouble. So the strong wind of suf 
fering drives us into the lap of God. 

"In Karachi I was bathing in the sea. I went far 
into the sea without knowing it. I saw a big wave 
sweeping toward me like a wall, and, full of fear, I 
prayed to God. What happened was that this wave took 
me safely ashore. I thought it would be impossible to 
return. I was afraid I would perish in the wave. And 



128 SADIIU SUNDAR SINGH 

yet, without killing me, it brought me safely ashore. So 
does suffering for us. 

"Once in the course of my travels I saw a shepherd. 
It was his habit to take his cattle across a river, let them 
graze till evening and then take them back across the 
river. That evening all the cattle went across except a 
cow and a calf which seemed unwilling to go over to the 
other side of the river. Afraid that if he let them stay 
there wild beasts might make short work of them in the 
course of the night, he lashed them and thus sought to 
make them go across the river. That was of no use. 
He then held before them some hay and tried to lure 
them across. That too proved futile. Then I suggested 
to him: Carry the calf across; the cow will then follow 
you easily. He carried the calf and the cow followed 
him. In the same way, when we are unwilling to reach 
our Lord, He separates from us our dear ones and takes 
them away to Himself. We are thus led to desire the 
heavenly regions where our dear ones have gone and to 
fit ourselves for them." 

May we not surmise that this last thought was sug 
gested to the Sadhu by reflection on the death of his 
mother, of whom he speaks so often and so fondly, and 
its effect upon his own religious quest? 

"Sorrow and misfortune draw us near to God and fit 
us for His service. Many regard misfortune as nothing 
but punishment for sin. And yet suffering and the way 
we suffer is a splendid way of serving God, an effective 
way of glorifying Him. 

"Let us look at the case of poor Lazarus. He was 
full of sores. These sores are not said to have been the 
result of his sin. Or he would not have obtained the 
great privilege of being in Abraham s bosom. His sores 



SUFFERING, SIN AND JUDGMENT 

and the way he endured them were the great sermon he 
preached to others. By this service which he rendered 
many were led to praise God. 

"But, some one will say, That is very fine. But does 
God afflict the innocent in order that He may be glori 
fied? Let us observe, however, the reward which God 
gave him after this brief period of trouble. He tells 
him, I bore the Cross and you also bore the Cross. 
Now I am reigning and you shall reign with me. 

"The Hindu doctrine of transmigration is an attempt 
to solve the problem of suffering, but it is not satisfac 
tory. If one man is a Rajah, another a coolie in this 
life, it explains that this is because the Rajah was a good 
man, the coolie a bad one, in a previous life. A certain 
Rajah s criticism of the doctrine was this: If a finger is 
badly scratched the injury is obvious, but the bone may 
be broken and there is nothing to show. My life is one 
long round of anxieties and burdens, though I appear as 
living in state and luxury. The coolie has not a care to 
trouble him. I must have sinned in a previous life and 
the coolie have been the saint. 

"We praise thee, Lord, for the joys and sufferings 
which thou hast sent us in the past and which thou 
sendest us now. By bearing Thy Cross will the bliss of 
Heaven become very sweet to us. For he who has not 
endured suffering cannot know the reality of joy." 

SIN 

One day I was sitting on a rock. I saw below me a 
bird hopping along slowly. I stooped down and tried 
to see what was happening. What did I see ? A snake 
was drawing the bird toward itself by its magnetic 



130 SADHU SUNDAR SINGH 

power. Drawn by the fascinating eye of the serpent, the 
bird unconsciously came very near the serpent. As soon 
as the serpent knew that the bird was its own and could 
not possibly escape, it caught the bird and devoured it. 
But the bird might have escaped the serpent at a dis 
tance. In the same manner, Satan endeavors to draw 
us to himself by his coaxing and pleasant ways. There 
is only one way of escaping him. Instead of turning our 
hearts towards him, we must attempt to fix our hearts 
on God. 

The saying whosoever is begotten of God sinneth 
not 1 used to perplex me, but now I understand it. Sin 
is generally the result of a desire to obtain pleasure. 
But the man who loves God has such deep and unfailing 
springs of joy in himself that he is not drawn to any 
other kind of pleasure, and therefore does not sin; just 
as the man who owns a sovereign has no use for a de 
faced farthing. 

There was a girl in a village. Every day she dusted 
off the cobwebs in her room. Once while doing this she 
thought about herself and prayed, Lord, as I am clean 
ing my room, clean thou my heart of all sin. Then a 
voice was heard in the air, Daughter, what is the use 
of sweeping away only the cobwebs every day? It is 
better to destroy the spider that spins the cobwebs. If 
you kill the spider there won t be any more cobwebs/ 
Likewise it is not enough that our daily sins be for 
given, but, as the Apostle says, the old man in us should 
die. 

"Roman Catholics make a great deal of the forgive 
ness of sins in Absolution: but the disease, which is the 
root of the sin, is working all the same. 
1 1 John v. 18. 



SUFFERING, SIN AND JUDGMENT 131 

"Sin is not only a disease, but a contagious disease. 
But when the Sun of Righteousness shines the germs are 
killed." 

"Do you think," we asked, "that penitent sinners 
should be continually thinking of their sin and renewing 
their contrition?" 

"Don t trouble about God forgiving or not forgiving 
your sin. Salvation is not forgiveness of sin, but free 
dom from sin. There was a consumptive in Sikkim who 
became delirious. Some fruits and a knife were placed 
by the side of his bed. A friend called on him. Un 
wittingly he took the knife and cut the throat of his 
friend. For this he was to be hung at 5 p. M. on a cer 
tain day. His friends and relations went to the king 
and begged for his forgiveness as he was not responsible 
for his action. But when they returned they were told 
that he had already died from consumption. His 
crime was the result of his disease. The crime was for 
given, but the disease itself, which was the root of the 
crime, was not healed. That is why the word of God 
says : Ye shall die in your sins. God will not kill you. 
But the disease, which is the root of the sins, is working 
all the same. 

"It is a healthy sign to feel that we are sinners. It 
is dangerous when we do not feel it. Once while bath 
ing in the river Sutlej I sank deep into the water. 
Above my head were tons of water and yet I did not feel 
the burden at all. When I came back to the bank, I 
lifted a pot filled with water and found it very heavy. 
As long as I was in the water I did not feel the weight. 
Similarly a sinner does not feel that he is a sinner as 
long as he lives in sin. 

* Coal is black we cannot remove its blackness. You 



132 SADHIT SUNDAR SINGH 

can use a hundred pounds of soap but you will not take 
away its blackness. But put it in the fire and its 
blackness goes, it becomes shining bright. So when we 
receive that baptism of fire by the Holy Spirit which 
comes into our lives when we give our hearts to Christ 
we sinners shine before the world. That is what Christ 
meant when He said, Ye are the light of the world. 

If we continue in sin our conscience, which is the 
eye of the soul, becomes blind : 

"I once saw a Tibetan monk who had spent many 
years meditating in a dark cave. When he came out he 
could not see anything. His eyes were pale and yellow. 
On my way back to India from Japan I met a scientist. 
He had some blind fish in a jar. They were beautiful 
but had no eyes: only a superficial mark remaining to 
show that they once possessed them. Because they had 
lived in the dark and did not use their eyes, they lost 
them. 

"Once in the Himalayas I ate a poisonous plant and 
for three days my tongue was numbed. I could not 
taste anything. Just so it is possible to lose one s taste 
for the Divine that is, to lose one s conscience by tast 
ing the poisonous fruit of sin. 

"I once saw a sweeper carrying a pan of ordure in 
one hand, the stench of which made me almost vomit. 
But the sweeper was so used to it that with his spare 
hand he was holding food to his mouth and eating it. 
Just so, we are so habituated to the sin and evil of the 
world that we live in it quite unconcerned. But Christ 
would have felt in the midst of it as I felt when the 
sweeper passed me. Accordingly, it is a mistake to think 
of the suffering of Christ as being confined to the Cruci 
fixion. Christ was thirty-three years upon the Cross." 



SUFFERING, SIN AND JUDGMENT 133 



REPENTANCE 

"I was traveling with some others on the Himalayas. 
One of our party began to be very thirsty. When we 
reached a high spot we noticed that there was a little 
water in the midst of a morass. This young man wanted 
to go and drink that water. His brother who knew that 
spot well reiterated: It is impossible to go there and 
return. All who ever went there perished in the mud. 
If you will only wait for a little while there is a village 
five miles away and you can drink water there. We 
too implored him in the same way. But he was deter 
mined to go and walked towards the water, saying: 
There is no mud here. As it is morning the water is 
frozen here. He got to the water and also drank it. 
But when he sought to return his feet began to sink into 
the mud. He went down as far as his knees. In trying 
to get out he sank still deeper and deeper, first as far 
as his waist and then as far as his neck. There was 
no means of getting him out. We had no rope long 
enough to help him. it any one had gone to rescue him 
it was certain that he also would perish. And he wailed 
at the thought of perishing thus, though he had known 
beforehand of the danger. But of what avail was that ? 
He died. Many love the things of the world, though 
they know that they cannot satisfy their souls thirst 
with them, and though they know that they will prove 
dangerous. Such will surely perish. Let us turn our 
hearts, not towards the world, but towards Him who is 
able to satisfy this thirst, and live. 

"In Tibet there was a village where there was no 
water. The people of the village had to bring the water 
in from a fresh spring about two miles away. Some of 



134 SADHU SUNDAR SINGH 

them did not like this and so dug a tank. They thought 
that the tank would be filled with rain water which they 
would use and that it would be unnecessary to go to the 
trouble of bringing water from a spot two miles away. 
When the rain came the tank which they dug was filled 
with water. As usual some went to the clear and fresh 
spring two miles away and brought in the water. Others 
laughed at them and mocked them, calling them mad 
men. Without much trouble they drank the water in the 
tank, but all those who drank the water died, as there 
was poisonous matter in it. Though those who brought 
the water from the spring two miles away had worked 
hard, they lived. In the same way it is hard to love the 
Lord and hate the world, but it is the way of life. 

"One day a hunter went out hunting. All the stones 
he had with him were exhausted. He wanted to sling 
a stone at a bird on a tree. Seeing a vessel near-by full 
of beautiful stones, he took them and hurled them at the 
bird with his sling. They fell into the river. Only one 
stone was left. The hunter took it home to give it to 
his child as a plaything. On the way he met a diamond 
merchant who promised to give him as much as a thou 
sand rupees for the stone. He did not agree to it. Then 
said the diamond merchant to him : Take home with you 
as many rupees as you can carry within the next hour 
and a half, only give me the stone. The hunter agreed 
to this and took home a bag full of rupees and came back 
for the next bag. There were only a few more minutes 
left for him. He took another bag full of money and 
walked home, weeping and lamenting. You are very 
mad, said the people to him. Instead of thanking God 
for all this money which He has given you, you are 
weeping. I am indeed thankful to God, wailed he, 



SUFFERING, SIN AND JUDGMENT 135 

but I was fool enough not to understand the value of 
this stone. I wasted several stones like this in the water. 
If I had only kept them I might have become a million 
aire. Every day of our lives is a precious stone. We 
have wasted many. This may be our last. So let us 
repent now. 

"There was a poor man in Northern India. He had 
a large debt. He had nothing with which to pay off the 
debt. He was too lazy to earn the money. Those who 
lent him the money made up their minds to put him in 
prison. But there was a wealthy and generous man in 
that place. Hearing of this man s wretched condition 
he wanted to help him. As he did not want that any one 
else should know of this, he came after twelve o clock 
in the night with all kinds of food and five hundred 
rupees his debt was not as large as this to the house. 
He stood knocking at the door for an hour, but the man 
in the house was too lazy to open it. Then the rich man 
returned home disgusted and feeling that he was not fit 
to be helped. The next morning the poor man heard of 
what had happened and was filled with sorrow. But 
what was the use ? Behold, the King of Kings is stand 
ing at our door ready to pay off all our debt of sin. He 
knocks at the door with divine food in his hand, food 
which will strengthen us and give us power to win vic 
tory over our spiritual enemies. Let us not be lazy and 
indifferent like that man, but open the door immediately. 
Then heavenly peace and joy will become ours. Our 
heart itself will become heaven. 

"Satan frequently confuses with doubt even true 
Christians. But by the grace of God the saintly man 
escapes this. To illustrate this let me tell you an inci 
dent which actually happened. A certain Saint before 



136 SADHU SUNDAR SINGH 

his conversion had committed many crimes. But after 
his conversion he served the Lord with his whole mind 
and led a holy life. When he was on his death-bed Satan 
brought him a catalogue of his previous sins and said, 
You have done all these things. You are not fit to 
enter heaven. Hell is your place/ Thus did Satan 
frighten him. But the Saint said, My Savior will in 
no wise cast out him that cometh to Him. If we confess 
our sins He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins 
and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness/ In spite 
of this, Satan continued to trouble him, but the Saint 
was not discouraged but continued steadily in prayer. 
Then a finger appeared and cancelled the catalogue of 
sins. The Saint, rejoicing at this, began praising God. 
But Satan said, Do not rejoice at this. You may reach 
Heaven, but your sin will always stand in the sight of 
all; so you will be ashamed before all. The Saint 
prayed again. Then a drop of Christ s blood fell on 
the catalogue. Spreading all over it washed away all the 
letters and made the paper white. Seeing this the Saint 
was filled with a divine joy and peacefully entered God s 
presence. 

Let us look at the three crosses on Calvary. He who 
hung in the center died for sin. One of the thieves was 
penitent and anxiously pleaded with the Lord. He 
heard his prayer and promised him that he would be 
with him that day in Paradise. He went with Christ to 
Paradise, not after many days, but that very day. He 
died to sin and lived in Christ. The other thief sought 
to save his body without being penitent. If you are the 
Son of God, save yourself and us, he said. He lived for 
his body and died in sin. Though near the Lord of 
Life, he died in sin without being saved. 



SUFFERING, SIN AND JUDGMENT 137 

" Friend, what is your condition? Are you dead in 
sin or have you died to sin?" 

JUDGMENT 

This section must be supplemented by the more esoteric 
teaching expressed in the Visions recorded in the pre 
vious chapter, if we wish to obtain a complete idea of 
the Sadhu s views on Judgment. As we have already 
indicated, in his public addresses he strongly emphasizes 
the certainty of retribution, but never even hints at his 
hope of an ultimate salvation, though of a lower degree, 
for all or almost all men. 

"Many comfort themselves by saying, God is Love. 
In some way or another He will save and redeem us in 
the end. In the end those will be disillusioned. 

"In the Himalayas there is a native Prince, forgiving 
and generous-hearted. One evening, while out for a 
drive, a man who had stolen some things from a clothes 
store and run away was caught and brought before him. 
The Raja warned him and said: This time I forgive 
you because I am not in my court. But you must not 
do this again. But the man did not give up his habits 
as a thief. Another day when the Raja was out driving 
they brought the man to him again. This time also he 
forgave him. Gaining boldness he went from bad to 
worse until he killed a man and was charged with mur 
der. They brought him to the court. He came into the 
court with great fear, but as soon as he saw the face of 
the judge he became bold and happy. This is the gen 
erous Raja who forgave me twice. This time also he 
will forgive me, he thought. When the Raja saw him 
he was sorry for him and said, Friend, you ought to 
have given up your evil ways long ago. I forgave you 



138 SADHU SUNDAR SINGH 

several times. This time also I wish to forgive you. 
But what can I do? Here not I, but this law book is the 
judge, and by it you are condemned to be hanged. The 
same will happen on that Great Day too. God is Love, 
but listen to what the Savior says: And if any man 
hear my words, and believe not, I judge him not : for I 
came not to judge the world, but to save the world. He 
that rejecteth me, and receiveth not my words, hath one 
that judgeth him: the word that I have spoken, the 
same shall judge him in the last day (John xii. 47-48). 

"Once I lifted a big stone. Under it were countless 
insects. As soon as they saw the light they were terri 
fied and ran to and fro in trepidation. I put the stone 
back in its place and they became quiet. When the Sun 
of Righteousness appears on that day this scene will be 
reproduced. Those who live in darkness and lead sin 
ful lives will see the sins which they committed in the 
dark revealed. For there is nothing covered, that shall 
not be revealed; and hid, that shall not be known Matt. 
x. 26). In His light the sins hidden in their hearts and 
lives will be made plain. They will be filled with terror 
and trepidation. 

"Observe the cobra, however often it may slough its 
skin, it remains a cobra. In the same way, a sinner, 
even though he leaves his body, will remain a sinner in 
the next world. Character does not change with death. 

"A sinner is a traitor against God. A man who is a 
traitor against one country can escape by taking refuge 
in another. But is there any kingdom where one may 
take refuge after being a traitor to God s kingdom? Sin 
will catch him who runs away from God on account of 
sin. Death will overtake him who runs away from God 
to escape death. In Tibet a man killed another man. 



SUFFERING, SIN AND JUDGMENT 139 

The Government decreed that the murderer should be 
hanged. By making an opening in the mud wall of the 
prison with a nail he escaped into the forest. But un 
able to bear the extreme cold he died there. Death 
caught him who sought to escape death. 
"Prayer and Meditation avail to wash away sin : 
"In the south of Bhutan there is a dense jungle where 
men hunt tigers and other big game. There was a lodge 
where they could take shelter in case of danger; the 
hunters carried with them the key of this lodge. One 
day a hunter started out, gun in hand. Suddenly he 
saw a tiger coming after him, and thinking that he could 
get into the lodge, threw his gun aside and ran toward 
it. He reached the door and looked for the key. But 
he had left it behind. Instantly the tiger leapt upon him 
and killed him. Between where he stood and the inside 
of the lodge was but an inch, but the thickness of the 
door. And yet he had to lose his life because he had 
been careless about his key. He would have died if he 
had been ten miles away from the lodge. He died none 
the less when he was very near to it. Though near the 
Kingdom of God, many Christians are careless about its 
key. What is that key? It is repentance and con 
tinued prayer. 

"While travelling on the Himalayas with some others 
I saw a man who had come from a hot country. We 
warned him and said: Wrap up your hands and feet 
well or they will be destroyed with the cold/ I can be 
lieve that they will be destroyed by heat. But it is 
foolish to think that cold will hurt them/ said he, and 
neglected our warning. After a few days I met him 
again. His whole hand had been destroyed by frost. 
And he cried bitterly that the snow should have done 



140 SADHU SUNDAR SINGH 

him such damage. But of what avail his sorrow now? 
"One day a man was standing under the shadow of 
a tree. Speaking to the shadow he said, <0 Shadow! 
You know for certain that you will come here thus once 
in every twenty-four hours, but I am not certain that / 
shall return here. And yet I have nothing ready to 
offer God in the next world/ . . . Yes, there is a cer 
tainty that many things will come back, but there is no 

certainty that the opportunity for repentance will come 

* 



again. 



VII 

THE HEART AND THE HEAD 
A REACTION AGAINST INTELLECTUALISM 

" RELIGION is a matter of heart. If we give our hearts 
we can understand its truth. You can find it, not 
through the intellect nor through the eyes, but only 
through depth of heart. Other lessons we have to learn 
from books ; to know Jesus Christ does not require book 
knowledge, but you have to give your heart." 

The antithesis of the Heart and the Head occupies 
very much the same position in the teaching of the Sadhu 
as the antithesis between Faith and Works in the teach 
ing of St. Paul and for essentially the same reason. 
To each of them his antithesis expresses, on the one hand, 
an affirmation of that Christocentric mysticism which is 
to him the essence of religion, and on the other a strong 
reaction against a religious philosophy from which he 
has emerged. To St. Paul, Faith, in this connection, is 
not assent to a credal proposition, but the utter devo 
tion of the lover to the Beloved, the primal movement of 
the soul towards mystic union with its Lord. This same 
devotion, this same movement, is what the Sadhu means 
when he says, "Give your heart to Christ: yield yourself 
to Him, let Him take possession of you." "Sometimes 
I have tried to keep myself from sinning, but I could not 
overcome temptations. When I gave my heart to Jesus 
Christ it was quite possible." What is this but St. 

141 



142 SADHU SUNDAR SINGH 

Paul s doctrine that we are "justified" through faith in 
Jesus Christ alone ? 

Such difference as there is between the antithesis of 
St. Paul and of the Sadhu is due to the difference of the 
systems against which they protest. St. Paul has felt, 
thought out, and therefore stated, his experience in re 
lation to a Jewish Legalism, which conceives God pri 
marily as Transcendent and as Judge. The Sadhu feels 
and states his in relation to a Hindu philosophy which 
makes God the Universal Immanent Life. By "Works" 
St. Paul means a doctrine of salvation by the rigid ob 
servance of a meticulous system of rules whether cere 
monial or moral. By "the Head" the Sadhu means a 
doctrine of salvation by knowledge. "I met a Hindu 
Sannyasi who said, Jnana-marga that is, Knowledge 
is necessary for salvation. I told him that in order to 
quench thirst it is necessary to have water, it is not neces 
sary to know that it is composed of oxygen and hydrogen. 
Some Hindu Sannyasis are very learned men, but they 
have no peace." 

The doctrine of salvation by Knowledge is almost 
not quite as strongly entrenched in Hindu thought as 
the doctrine of salvation by works of the Law was in the 
Jewish system against which St. Paul reacted; and just 
as there were some Jews, and those not shallow souls, 
who could find religious contentment within and through 
the Law witness the author of the one hundred and 
nineteenth Psalm so it has been with Hinduism and the 
way of salvation through knowledge. Yet despite this, 
the protest of the Sadhu, like that of St. Paul, is fully 
justified, if we view the thing they criticize as a whole 
and not merely its exceptional products. 

In England or America those who are interested in 



THE HEART AND THE HEAD 143 

religion at all think of it mainly in its relation to prac 
tical ethics. The last subject on which the average edu 
cated man is capable of talking with fluency and ease is 
the philosophy of religion. It is quite otherwise in 
India. Brahminism has impressed the multitude, with 
an elaborate cultus, it has implanted in the educated a 
passion for philosophical speculation. That the first 
thing in religion is neither ritual nor metaphysic, but a 
new heart, is a truism in the West. In India it is not 
yet so. 

Of course, in a country so concerned with religion as 
India, there have been numerous protests against the 
servitude of the many to superstition and of the few to 
intellectualism. The very influential Bhakti school 
protests strongly against the dominance of intellectual- 
ism in religion. Indeed there is not a little in the 
Sadhu s attitude on this subject which would entirely 
commend itself to a devotee of Bhakti. 

The Sadhu is no more an enemy of knowledge than St. 
Paul was an enemy of good works, but he is violently in 
revolt against those who would set it in the first place. 
We must remember also, if we are fully to appreciate 
the meaning of his reiterated depreciation of the things 
of the head, that in India the missionary has often to 
face the objection that many Englishmen of ability and 
education, though brought up in Christianity, have in 
fact discarded it. Again, is it not possible that even 
among persons learned in theology he may have met 
some who yet seemed strangely blind to the weightier 
matters of the law ! 

In religion the one thing needful is a fine sense for 
spiritual values the eye to see the vision and the will 
to follow it. And it was not the Sadhu who first made 



144 SADHU SUNDAR SINGH 

the discovery that these things are sometimes hidden 
from the wise and prudent and revealed to babes. 

THE FUNCTION OF INTELLECT 

Change the terminology a little, substitute for " heart" 
the "conative and emotional aspects of the self," and for 
1 head" read "the reflective faculty" and what the 
Sadhu has to say on the function of intellect comes very 
near to what some modern psychologists are teaching. 

"The heart is the innermost part of our soul. It re 
ceives, as it were, wireless messages from the unseen 
world. The head is concerned with visible things. It 
is the heart that sees and feels the heart of spiritual 
reality. My head acquiesces in what I have seen with 
my heart. If I had not seen them first, my head would 
not have believed them. The heart is beyond the head. 

"Knowledge obtained by the head does not go down 
below the throat. I once picked a stone out of a pool 
and broke it. About six or seven inches of it were wet, 
but inside and in the center that stone was quite dry. 
That stone was in the water but the water was not in the 
stone. It is the same with men. Some in the Christian 
Church know a great deal about Him, but the center of 
their heart is dry. Christ is not in their hearts. 

"Sometimes I have been asked by lowly people of 
India, If learned men do not believe in Christianity then 
how can we believe ? I said : It is a most foolish thing 
to ask them. They may be specialists on the subjects on 
which they spend their lives, their opinion on these is 
of great value ; but in spiritual things they may be like 
children they may know nothing. The man of prayer 



THE HEART AND THE HEAD 145 

is the only one whose opinion is worth having in regard 
to religion. Mystics are the specialists in religion. 

"But," we asked, how can one test the validity for 
others of the knowledge which the mystic obtains by 
direct incommunicable intuition?" 

"From his life you can be sure that the mystic is not 
telling an untruth. Therefore he should be listened to. 
Then try and live out what he says in your own experi 
ence. 

"It is foolish in religious matters to accept the judg 
ment of scientists who have no spiritual experience. 
Learned men, who can find out when an eclipse of the 
sun will take place, may know nothing of the eclipse of 
sin." 

The highest kind of spiritual knowledge is not at 
tained by the mere exercise of the intellect but by the 
strengthening and illumining of the intellect by Christ. 
"The eyes have the capacity to see but they cannot see 
until the rays of light fall on them. So the eyes of the 
intellect have the capacity to see but they cannot see 
until the rays from the Sun of Righteousness fall on 
them." 

VAIN INQUIRY 

One day a father took a ball of string which was all 
in a tangle and tried to unravel it. It took several hours 
for him to do so. His little son, who was observing him, 
took another piece of string, and tying one end to a tree 
made a noose at the other. Then he put the noose around 
his neck and contrived to hang himself, while the father 
was still intent on the tangle. His mother saw her son 
thus hanging and came running to the spot. Wretch! 



146 SADHU SUNDAR SINGH 

she cried. The child is dying. Instead of saving him 
you are straightening out a tangle in your string. By 
that time the child was dead. Such is the result of vain 
inquiry. The time so spent might have been used for 
saving millions of perishing souls. 

"Some years ago I saw a child with an onion in his 
hand and he was taking off its many skins one by one. 
He said, I am removing its covers of skins to see what is 
inside. I said, It is made of skins only. But he said, 
I am sure there must be something in it. He kept on 
peeling the skins off until there was nothing left. Lots 
of people act like that with religion. They are always 
asking questions, with the result that they cannot find 
anything of the spiritual vision. 

"Some time ago I was talking to a friend of mine in 
India, a very clever man, a chemist. He took a cup of 
milk and began to analyze it. He told us that there was 
so much water, so much sugar, and so much of other 
things. He could tell us all that; but I said, A little 
child cannot analyze this milk, but he knows two things 
from his experience. He knows it is sweet and he knows 
it is making him stronger. He is getting stronger day 
by day. He cannot explain to you how it happens, but 
he knows it. But you/ I said to my friend, by your 
analyzing of it derive no benefit from it, and you spoil 
the milk. This child is wiser than the chemist." 

"But," we objected, "in the long run does not the 
chemist do good by his analysis?" 

"Yes, but there are some people who do nothing but 
analyze their milk all the time. They never drink it. 

"A man came to our Savior with a withered hand. 
The Savior knew his desire to be healed. He said, 
Stretch forth thy hand : the man did so, and it was 



THE HEART AND THE HEAD 147 

made whole. If he had argued he would not have been 
healed. He did not want to argue with his Savior. He 
was able to stretch forth his hand. I must do the same 
and believe the truth. We shall see wonderful things if 
we obey." 

THE MORAL OBSTACLE 

Moral obtuseness, the Sadhu thinks, is often at the 
root of unbelief. "Many people are not able to under 
stand and perceive spiritual truth because they are 
numb with sin. They are like a leper whose leg was 
burnt in the fire and yet who was so numb that he did 
not feel the pain. Repent of your sins and ask God s 
forgiveness. Then you will feel Christ s presence. 
Christ s presence cannot be explained. It must be felt." 

"In such cases," we asked, "how do you try and 
arouse people out of this numbness?" "I speak of 
Christ, who is the only hope for leprosy. 

I have seen a bridge of water over water/ Once 
when preaching I said this to the people. They said, 
There might be a bridge of wood or stone, but how 
could there be a bridge of water? In that part of the 
world they never have cold weather and have never seen 
the surface of a river hard frozen. That was the bridge 
of water over the water, but they could not understand. 
How can a man who has always lived in a hot country 
understand that there can be a bridge of water over the 
water? Just so those who are living in their sins are 
like men who never go up to the high mountains where 
the bridge of water over the water can be seen, and thus 
they cannot understand religious truth; but those who 
are living a life of prayer are like men who are living 
in cold countries, they can understand." 



148 SADHU SUNDAR SINGH 

KNOWLEDGE OF CHRIST 

The Sadhu frequently stresses the distinction between 
knowing" Christ and knowing about" Christ. "St. 
Paul said, I am not ashamed, for I know whom I have 
believed. 7 He suffered many things for many years, 
but he was not ashamed because he knew Him in whom 
he believed. Nowadays there are many people who 
know about Jesus Christ but very few who can say, I 
know whom I have believed. Those who are bigoted in 
their religion, they also know about Jesus Christ, but 
they do not know Him. To know Him and to know 
about Him is a great difference. St. Paul must have 
seen Him and heard about Him before he was converted. 
When he knew about Jesus 1 Christ he used to persecute 
the Christians, but when he got to know Christ he him 
self was persecuted. 

"Last month when one of my Indian friends was 
shown a daffodil, he was surprised. He knew a great 
deal about that flower : he used to read about it for ex 
aminations, the poetry of Wordsworth told him some 
thing about daffodils, but he had never seen one and he 
could not recognize it when he was told. It is quite 
possible for many people to know a lot about Christ 
without knowing Him. Those who know Him will find 
peace and joy and happiness and salvation. 

"Many souls have been saved in India, some of whom 
are very simple men. One man I know there is quite 
illiterate, but a wonderful man when he bears his wit 
ness. He used to say, I was a "sweeper," 1 but now, 
by His grace, I am a "son." I know Him, because He 

i The "sweepers" who do scavenging and other such work are one 
of the lowest castes in India. 



THE HEART AND THE HEAD 149 

is in my heart ; and if you will give your heart to Him 
you will know Him too. 

A student at Oxford, a candidate for the Pass Degree, 
was much impressed at a meeting in which the Sadhu 
discoursed on these lines. He rushed off to the Head of 
a Theological College and said: "I agree with the 
Sadhu about the uselessness of getting mere knowledge. 
As soon as I get my B. A. I am going out as a missionary. 
I don t think I need any theological training." This 
was reported to the Sadhu, who said: "That is not 
what I meant. Ministers do need training. What I 
meant was that learning without life is dry bones." He 
continued: "I am not opposed to knowledge as such. 
Only I am raising a strong protest against the modern 
tendency to emphasize learning too much. Let me give 
you an illustration. Luther vehemently emphasized jus 
tification by faith as a protest against the Roman emphasis 
on works. He did not despise works altogether." 

Already in New Testament times there were those 
who, from St. Paul s reiterated emphasis on faith, de 
duced that good works could be dispensed with. In his 
epistles we are told (II Peter iii. 16) "are some things 
hard to be understood, which they that are unlearned and 
unstable wrest . . . unto their own destruction." If 
by a similar reiteration of the importance of a heart s 
devotion to Christ, the Sadhu has laid himself open to a 
similar misinterpretation he has done it in good com 
pany. 



VIII 
NATURE AND THE BIBLE 

THE BOOK OF NATURE 

NATURE has an extraordinary fascination for the 
Sadhu. But he does not love Nature in the spirit of St. 
Francis, preaching to the swallows or singing his canticle 
to "brother Sun." Nor, again, has he that feeling of 
immanent Divinity which marks the nature-mysticism of 
a Wordsworth. The Sadhu s point of view is much 
nearer to the Hebrew. The Hebrew attitude is thus de 
scribed by Dr. Sanday in an unpublished paper written 
just before his death: "The Greeks studied nature for 
its own sake : they observed it for its own sake and they 
analyzed it for its own sake. As their disciples, we do 
the same. But the Hebrew Prophets eared very little 
for these things. They were interested in nature, and 
have left behind them magnificent descriptions of nature : 
but that was not for the sake of a purely calm contempla 
tion of nature in itself. They always had an ulterior 
object ; they were always thinking of nature as the han 
diwork and expression of God. What they, the Hebrew 
prophets, were really bent upon was, as I said, the things 
of the spirit. And as many of these things could not, 
or could not readily, be expressed directly, they were 
glad to express them indirectly: and as nature is full of 
analogies between the things of the body or material 
things, and the things of the spirit, they were glad to 

150 



NATURE AND THE BIBLE 151 

make use of these analogies in their task of expounding 
these latter to the mind of their hearers. In other 
words, they used them not for their own sake but as 
symbols. 

"The heavens declare the glory of God and the firma 
ment showeth his handiwork." The Sadhu loves Na 
ture not so much because he feels God in Nature, but be 
cause God made Nature and Nature is to him an open 
book speaking in parables about the things of God. He 
loves the beauty, especially the snow-clad beauty of the 
Himalayas, but it is less for the sake of the beauty itself 
than because in those eternal solitudes it is easier to hold 
communion with God and to read the great truths, which 
are written, as he says, all over Nature in capital letters. 
Not only beautiful but also unattractive sights of Nature 
barren stretches of sand, festering decay discourse 
to him in parables of God. Hence the phrase he so often 
uses the Book of Nature. 

The saint or the genius ever fails to comprehend why 
other people cannot see what is so obvious to himself. 
So the Sadhu wonders why there are so few who ha 
bitually read the Book of Nature and derive from it the 
comfort and inspiration which he himself finds there. 
The fruits of his reading in that book are the illustra 
tions and parables which make up the greater part of 
his teaching. 

"To read other books you must master painfully the 
language in which those books are written, but this is not 
so with the Book of Nature. It is written in a language 
which is simple and intelligible to all." "Live with 
Christ, and the Book of Nature will be clear to you." 
To the Sadhu it is rest as well as illumination. Asked 
what relaxation he had, living as he did a life of high 



152 SADHU SUNDAR SINGH 

tension, he said, "Reading the pages of the Book of Na 
ture." The thought of crossing the English Channel on 
his way to Paris filled him with delight, for it would pro 
vide him with another opportunity to study Nature. 
He stood on the deck and gazed at the deep blue sea, joy 
beaming on his face. 

He compares and contrasts the Bible and the Book of 
Nature. 

"The Bible and the Book of Nature are both written 
in spiritual language by the Holy Spirit. The Holy 
Spirit being the author of life, all Nature, instinct with 
life, is the work of the Holy Spirit, and the language in 
which it is written is spiritual language. Those who 
are born again have the Holy Spirit for their mother. 
So to them the language of the Bible and of Nature is 
their mother tongue, which they easily and naturally un 
derstand." The difference, however, between the Bible 
and the Book of Nature is this: "The message of the 
Bible is simple, direct and straightforward, whereas the 
message of the Book of Nature has to be spelled out care 
fully letter by letter. In the Bible itself the Sadhu dis 
covers instances of a use of the Book of Nature similar to 
his own, in passages like "Wash me, and I shall be 
whiter than snow," x or "He shall be like a tree planted 
by the water-side, that bringeth forth his fruit in due 
season. 2 Curiously enough he did not mention in this 
connection the parables of our Lord. 

He was asked, "Is there any difference between your 
study and the Hindu s study of the Book of Nature? 
Did not the Hindu seers, the poets of the Vedic hymns, 
also read the pages of the Book of Nature ? " " Yes, they 
did," he replied, "but they lost God in Nature. The 
i Ps. li. 7. 2 p a . i. 3. 



NATURE AND THE BIBLE 153 

Christian mystic finds God in Nature. The Hindu mys 
tic thinks that God and Nature are the same. The Chris 
tian mystic knows that there must be a Creator who has 
created the creation." 

The Sadhu remarked that to him the Book of Nature 
of which he speaks includes also human nature. His 
illustrations are drawn not only from trees, plants and 
animals, rivers and mountains, but from the varied 
drama of human life. But though men and women, with 
their motives and their difficulties, furnish him with 
abundant material for shrewd and observant contempla 
tion, he does not view humanity with the eye of a 
Dickens delighting in its idiosyncrasies, or of a Mere 
dith turning his microscope upon its subtlest intricacies, 
but rather with that of a preacher, who is also an artist, 
seeing everywhere the material for a telling parable. 
Moreover, though interested in men and their ways, he 
is nothing of a sightseer. When he was in Oxford boat 
races were in progress, but he declined an invitation to 
go and see them. Nor did he display any special pleas 
ure in the fine buildings and other sights of the city. 
He does, indeed, take pleasure in visiting new scenes ; but 
this springs more, we surmise, from a desire to get a 
sort of bird s-eye view of God s world than from any 
thing like the zest for exploration which fires the ordi 
nary traveler. He is glad to see famous cities; but "I 
don t like cities," he said once, "they are rough pages 
of the Book of Nature." 



THE BIBLE 

When asked which were his favorite books of the 
Bible, the Sadhu answered, "The Bible, like a lump of 



154 SADHU SUNDAE SINGH 

sugar, is sweet to me at whatever point I taste it." 
Nevertheless he does in practice draw distinctions. The 
New Testament is the staple of his spiritual food. This, 
on account of its smaller size, he is able always to carry 
with him, in the Urdu version, being, indeed, beside his 
blanket and his robe, his only earthly possession. In his 
addresses he constantly quotes the New Testament, but 
only rarely refers to the Old and then usually, to the 
Psalms. Of the visions in Ezekiel he said once, "They 
are riddles. Sometimes you catch a glimpse of their 
meaning and sometimes not." And when asked whether 
he was specially attracted to the Book of Revelation, he 
replied, "Not very much." The Gospel of St. John is 
the book which he reads most often and to which he 
most often refers. 

Asked why he is so much drawn to St. John s Gospel, 
he replied that it was because it is so simple and yet so 
deep; and also because, being written by the beloved 
disciple of Jesus, it gives a new and marvelous insight 
into His character and possesses a charm all its own. 
"St. John leaned on Christ s breast. He had a warm 
heart and spoke, not mouth to mouth, but heart to heart 
with Jesus. So he understood him better." Again, 
"St. John bore witness for Him whom he knew. He did 
not say whom I have read of in books or heard about as 
the Savior of the world, but Svhom we have looked 
upon. He lived with Him three years, day and night. 
He loved our Savior more than others and he could un 
derstand the love of his Savior and bear witness for 
Him. How many of us could say the same thing, that 
we have heard and seen Him, that our hands have han 
dled Him, that we can bear witness for Him?" It is 
the Sadhu s desire some day to expound the Gospel of 



NATURE AND THE BIBLE 155 

St. John, using his own characteristic method of illus 
tration. It is to be hoped he may carry out his intention. 
"When I was traveling in the Central Provinces I was 
talking to some non-Christians about our living Savior. 
I finished speaking, and I asked those people if any one 
would like to read the Bible to know something more 
about Jesus Christ. There was a man there, an enemy 
of Christianity. He took a copy of St. John s Gospel. 
He read two or three sentences, and then straightway 
tore it into pieces and threw it away. This was in a 
compartment in the train. After two years I heard a 
wonderful story. The same day that this man took St. 
John s Gospel and tore it up into pieces and threw it 
out of the window, a seeker after truth was going along 
the railway line. He was a real seeker after truth. For 
six or seven years he had tried his hardest to find the 
truth ; but he was not satisfied. As he was going along 
the railway line thinking over these things, he found the 
torn pieces of the Gospel, and he took them up and began 
to read. He saw the words everlasting life. Accord 
ing to Hinduism it may be true that we are not going to 
die, but that we shall live through transmigration, and 
come back again into this world. But everlasting life ! 
Then in another piece of the Gospel he saw the words 
the Bread of Life. He was anxious to know something 
about it. What was that Bread of Life ? He showed the 
pieces to another man and said to him, Can you tell 
me what this book is? I am sorry that somebody tore it 
up. The man said, That is Christian. You must not 
read it. You will be defiled. You must not read such 
books. At last he said, I must know something more. 
There is no danger in knowing more about these things. 
He went and bought a copy of the New Testament and 



156 SADHU SUNDAR SINGH 

began to read it and he found our Savior. Now he is 
a preacher of the Gospel in the Central Provinces. 
Really the torn pieces of St. John s Gospel proved to be 
a piece of the living Bread the Bread of Life." 

The Sadhu tells several similar stories of cases where 
the New Testament has penetrated and produced conver 
sions among those whom no missionary has been able to 
reach. Naturally Christianity so reached may some 
times include eccentric elements. "In one Buddhist 
temple in Western Tibet when I went to see the library 
of the Lama, the Buddhist priest, I was surprised to see 
a copy of the New Testament there, and I asked him, 
Where did you get it? He said, It is a wonderful 
book. There are many wonderful things in this book. 
Do you know who is that Jesus Christ in the Bible ? He 
must have been an incarnation of Buddha. I said, I 
believe in Him. He is my Savior and the Savior of the 
world/ The priest replied, I do not know whether He 
is the Savior of the world; but I know that He is an 
incarnation of Buddha, and Tibet is the roof of the 
world, and He is coming again and His throne will be 
in Tibet, and He will rule over all the world because it 
is the roof of the world. So we are expecting Him and 
He will come back again, and He will reign in this world, 
the incarnation of Buddha, Jesus Christ. : 

Of the real aim and significance of the modern critical 
approach to the Bible the Sadhu has probably little or 
no first-hand knowledge ; but by what he does know about 
it he is strongly repelled. He is indeed seriously con 
cerned about "this spiritual influenza," as he calls it, 
and about the disposition to regard our Lord merely as 
a great moral teacher, which he believes to be its result. 

Coming from such a man the protest demands con- 



NATURE AND THE BIBLE 157 

sideration. There are Scholars who do need reminding 
that Prophets, Psalmists and Apostles were like the 
Sadhu men who lived in, with and for God. Some of 
them saw the light less clearly than others, but all were 
mystics of the only true type that is, men who know 
God, because they have loved God and striven to do His 
will. Amans ab amante accenditur, says St. Augustine, 
"lover is set afire by lover." He who approaches their 
writings in something of the spirit in which he would 
approach the Sacrament may himself catch fire; he too 
may find God. And he should be the better able to do 
this if he has enough knowledge of the history, outlook 
and surroundings of the writers to bring to his reading 
the imaginative insight which is needed for the full un 
derstanding and appreciation of all great literature. 
The critical study of the Bible is far the most important 
branch of Sacred Archeology and of Church History 
but it is archaeology and history, and no more. Once 
let the microscopic study of documents and dates be 
come an obsession, blinding one to the weightier matters 
of the law, and a " spiritual influenza" does indeed re 
sult. "These ought ye to have done and not to leave 
the other undone." 

But the Sadhu s own view of inspiration, from the 
standpoint of which he criticizes critics, is by no means 
the rigid mechanical theory which some Western theo 
logians of the older school have upheld. It demands no 
verbal infallibility. 

"When I was staying in North India in the house of 
a friend I was reading a religious book in which were 
some things I did not understand. My host, a D.D. and 
a Ph.D., explained my difficulties, and his explanation 
sounded to me quite satisfactory. Later on, however, I 



158 SADHU SUNDAR SINGH 

met the author, who explained to me his real meaning, 
which was very different. Just so, learned men very 
often misinterpret the Scripture. If we want to know 
the real meaning we must go to the Author, that is to 
say, we must live with the Holy Spirit. 

"The Holy Spirit is the true Author of the Scriptures, 
but I do not therefore say that every word, as it is writ 
ten in the Hebrew or the Greek, is inspired. Just as my 
clothes are not myself, so words are only human lan 
guage. It is not the words, but the inward meaning 
that is inspired. The language used by the authors of 
the Bible was the same language as that of ordinary life, 
and therefore was not really adequate for spiritual 
things. Hence our difficulty in getting back through the 
words to the real meaning, but to those who are in con 
tact with the author, that is with the Holy Spirit, every 
thing is plain. My words are spirit, and they are life, 
but it was of the meaning, not the letter, that this was 
spoken. When the Holy Spirit speaks to men He does 
not speak in human words, but in that language of the 
heart, that direct wordless speech of the spiritual world, 
which I hear in Ecstasy. 

"When I am in Ecstasy and speak to the Angels and 
Saints, it is not in the language of this world, but in a 
spiritual language without words which seems to come 
quite naturally. Before I utter a word or move my lips 
the meaning is out; and this is the same language in 
which truth was communicated to the authors of the 
Scripture. Afterwards they tried to find words to ex 
press what had been revealed to them. But often they 
may have failed to get just the right word, but the 
meaning they were trying to express is inspired. They 
must have felt acutely this difficulty in expressing the 



NATURE AND THE BIBLE 159 

full meaning of what often cannot be really put into 
words, and after they had written it down, having done 
their best, they must have thought to themselves, After 
all, something is better than nothing, and we must give 
our message. 

Speaking of the Bible on another occasion he said, 
"We take food. The valuable part of our food is di 
gested and the useless part goes away in filth. The soul 
will assimilate naturally the elements which are good 
for itself: the rest will go away of themselves." 

Of the part played by the Bible in his own conver 
sion, he speaks thus : 1 

"I used to read the Bible and I felt the power of the 
Word of God. Of course, I did not like it sometimes. 
I used to criticize it and I used to tear up the Bible and 
burn it in the fire. But even then I must confess that 
sometimes I felt its wonderful power and attraction. It 
was a sort of fresh cool breeze perhaps that illustration 
will not appeal to you you prefer fire more than a 
breeze; but to those who are living in hot countries the 
cool breeze is refreshing the breath of life. As a seeker 
after truth I tried first to be satisfied, to find peace and 
joy, from Hinduism or wherever I could find it. But 
the scriptures of Hinduism, the good teaching of other 
religions, could not satisfy me. When I used to read the 
Word of God, I felt that it was a refreshing cool breeze, 
the breath of life. Although I used to tear it up, I felt 
its power. Many others felt the power of the Word of 
God. They used to say, You must not read the Bible/ 
Why? Because of its magic. You will become a 

i This, and the stories, pp. 155-56 are from an address at the 
Annual Meeting of the Bible Society in London. Cf. The Bible 
in the World, June, 1920. 



160 SADHU SUNDAR SINGH 

Christian. Many who began by reading the Bible have 
become Christians. You must not read it. Some of 
those who were non-Christians and who were opposed to 
Christianity realized that there was power in it. I used 
to feel in those days the wonderful power and attraction 
of the Word of God. I came to know my Savior. 
Through the Word of God I was introduced to my Sa 
vior. I knew Jesus Christ through the Bible. When 
He revealed Himself to me in a vision I became con 
verted and I felt heaven on earth." 

The last three sentences sum up his whole position. 
In his view of the Bible, as in everything else, he is the 
mystic whose mysticism centers on Christ. Or, as he 
himself puts it, "The purpose of the Gospels is merely 
to introduce us to Christ. " 



MIRACLES 

The Sadhu believes implicitly in miracles. "The day 
of miracles is not gone, the day of faith is." And he 
regards whether justly or otherwise, we need not here 
consider those who hesitate to accept the miracles of 
the Bible as holding a diminished conception of the 
power of God. "Formerly the Bible used to be a large 
book. Now it is printed in such a way that men carry 
it in their right pocket. So formerly God used to be 
thought of in a large way. Now men are trying to 
make God small and to carry Him in their left-hand 
pocket. " " The miracle of the new birth is the greatest 
of all miracles. He who believes in that miracle believes 
in all miracles." 

"The Saints in Heaven, though they help men spir 
itually on earth, are not allowed to come down and work 



NATURE AND THE BIBLE 161 

directly, but only indirectly, through other men. The 
angels could easily convert the world in ten minutes. 
Some of them have asked for the privilege of being al 
lowed to suffer in this world, but God refused their re 
quest, because He did not wish to interfere with men s 
freedom by such an exercise of miraculous power. The 
Apostles were allowed to work miracles in order to 
prove that they as well as Christ had authority behind 
their word, and miracles are still occasionally allowed 
but not often. "* 

In London or New York everything that strikes the 
eye speaks of organization, invention and the science 
that has made all this possible. Nature appears to have 
been all but tamed by man, and the conception of the 
Reign of Law appeals to the imagination as well as to 
the reason and it is hard to believe in miracles. 

In an Indian village, upon mountains like the Hima 
layas, by rivers like the Ganges, where the luxuriance 
of tropical forest alternates with the vast expanse of 
endless plow-land or of desert plain, haunted by the 
scorch of the sun by day and the jungle s multitudinous 
hum by night, man, cowed and defenseless, senses the 
One behind it all as palpitating with mysterious and 
wholly incalculable Power. Add to this an ancient cul 
ture, exuberant in tales of marvel, entirely lacking in 
the scientific spirit and it is difficult to disbelieve in 
miracle. 

To take up one side or the other in such a contro 
versy, or even to argue at length that the issue is one 
which really matters very little to the religious man, 
would be inappropriate in this place. Our purpose is 

i This, the Sadhu said, was told him once when in Ecstasy. 
Cf. p. 87 



162 SADHU SUNDAR SINGH 

to portray the Sadhu as he is; but, if the portrait is to 
be a true one, the background it stands out against must 
be seen to be his environment, not ours. 

The Sadhu believes in miracles, not merely because 
he finds them in the Bible, and in the Book of Nature as 
it reads most naturally to rural India s eyes, but be 
cause they have happened, or have seemed to happen, 
to himself. 

The following is taken from the shorthand report of 
the address given to the meeting presided over by the 
Bishop of London, mentioned above (cf. p. 18). The 
experience described is his own and in India he has often 
told it as such. But he had sufficient knowledge of the 
English point of view to be aware that if he told it as a 
personal experience he would focus attention on him 
self and distract it from the moral he was enforcing, so 
he characteristically told it as if it had occurred to some 
other person. 

There was a man whom God had called in the moun 
tains. At first the people did not want to receive him. 
In the beginning it was rather difficult for him. He 
was tired and hungry and thirsty. He went into a cave 
and began to pray and was tempted : You came to tell 
the people about Jesus Christ/ the tempter said, but 
where is Christ now? You are hungry and thirsty and 
your Savior does not help you. But when he began to 
pray he found a wonderful Peace, and he could say, 
1 My Savior has heard. He could not get food or bread, 
but he took some sweet leaves, and it was as though he 
had never tasted such luscious food before. The pres 
ence of our Savior had changed them. 

Afterwards a crowd of people came with sticks and 
stones in their hands to attack him. He closed his eyes 



NATURE AND THE BIBLE 163 

and said, Thy will be done. I commit my soul into Thy 
hands. But, when he opened his eyes, he saw that they 
had gone. He spent the whole night praying and in the 
morning eighty or ninety people came in a crowd to see 
him, but not with sticks or stones in their hands. 

If you want to kill me here I am/ the man said. 
Last night we came to kill you and stone you, but 
today we have come to ask one question. We have 
seen many people from different countries and know 
them all, but last night we saw some wonderful people: 
to which country do they belong? You were not alone 
last night, so many people were standing around you in 
shining robes, who were they? 

Not one or two saw this vision, but the whole crowd. 
Those men in the shining robes belonged to heaven. 
They are sent to work for those who bear witness for 
Him and obey Him. But those who live a life of prayer 
shall see much more wonderful things than that. They 
will find that Peace which they can find nowhere else." 
The Tamil addresses contain this story: 
"In Tibet there was a man who sought God, but not 
finding Him was restless and unhappy. Finally he be 
came so dejected that he resolved to commit suicide. At 
that time a stranger came to him, and said, I know a 
man a hundred miles away, living outside this kingdom, 
who can help you. The man gladly agreed to see him. 
After several days travel they both reached the bank of 
a river. Stay here/ said the stranger. Seven miles 
away is the village where the man of whom I spoke lives. 
I will go and bring him back here. With these words 
he crossed over to the other side of the river and went 
to the village and brought back with him that Christian. 
The Christian and the other man talked for a long time, 



164 SADHU SUNDAR SINGH 

and the latter believed in Christ and was ready to be 
baptized. He looked for the stranger who helped him 
by bringing him all this way, but could not find him any 
where. He thought that he was the Christian s friend, 
and the Christian thought that he was the friend of the 
man from Tibet. Finally they decided that he was an 
angel. And the man was baptized. But though the 
angel spent several days with him he did not preach to 
him. It was God s will that this part of the task should 
be done by a man, the Christian who lived a hundred 
miles away." 

The following excerpt from a letter to the Nur 
Afshan, 1 illustrating as it does both the Sadhu s way of 
life and the atmosphere in which he moves, will appro 
priately end this chapter: 

"A few weeks ago a Christian Sadhu by name Sundar 
Singh came about preaching the Gospel in the villages 
round about Narkanda and suffered a great deal of per 
secution. We were sitting and chatting . . . when a 
farmer by name Nandi came up and said : 

" A very strange thing has happened in our village. 
One day while we were reaping the corn in a field a 
Sadhu came up to us and began to preach religion. We 
all felt very annoyed at this interference in our work 
and showered curses on him ; but little heeding our curses 
and threats the man went on with his talk. At this my 
brother took up a stone and hit the man on the head. 
But this good man, unmindful of the insult, closed his 
eyes and said, "0 God, forgive them!" After a while 
my brother who had flung the stone was suddenly caught 
with a splitting headache and had to give up reaping. 
At this the Sadhu took my brother s scythe and started 
i Quoted by A. Zahir, A Lover of the Cross, p. 11. 



NATURE AND THE BIBLE 165 

reaping the corn. We all marveled and said, "What 
manner of man is this Sadhu, that, instead of abusing 
and cursing us in return, he prays in our favor ? Then 
we took him to our house where he told us many nice 
things. After he had gone we noticed an amazing thing. 
The field where this good man had reaped has never 
yielded so much corn as it has this year; we have gath 
ered two maunds above the average this time. 

"A few days ago I met a European lady on her way 
to Simla. I told her about this matter and she advised 
me to send an account of this marvelous incident to the 
Nur Afshan. . . . Hence according to her advice I send 
this communication to the Editor . . . and request the 
Sadhu ji himself to visit that same village again, so that 
we may benefit by his holy preaching. . 

(Signed) JIYA RAM." 



IX 

TABLE TALK 

IN form and matter there is not very much difference 
between what the Sadhu says on the platform and when 
talking to one or two individuals in private or to the 
company gathered at a meal. But he is obviously more 
at home discoursing in the informal, somewhat rambling, 
style of the Indian Guru amid his disciples than in the 
set sermon or platform address of the West. Moreover 
in small gatherings it is easier to appreciate his humor, 
his kindliness, his spiritual insight, to see the vivacity 
and changing expression of his face, and to feel the at 
mosphere of divine peace which he diffuses round him. 

In this chapter we collect, under a convenient title, 
specimens of his discourse, public and private chosen, 
sometimes for their penetrating insight, and sometimes 
for their picturesque simplicity. 

THE PREACHER 

"I don t sit down and write out my sermons. As I 
pray, I get texts, subjects and illustrations. Preachers 
ought to get their message from God. If they get it 
from books instead, they do not preach their own gospel ; 
they preach the gospel of others. They sit on other peo 
ple s eggs and hatch them and think they are their own. 

Once a reporter from a London newspaper asked him 
on what subject he was going to speak at a certain meet- 

166 



TABLE TALK 167 

ing. He said that he himself did not know, but that he 
would speak as led by the Lord. He always, however, 
insists on a prolonged period for prayer and meditation 
before giving a public address : and he starts with a text 
and a few leading thoughts carefully chosen in view of 
the particular occasion. The actual development of the 
sermon depends a great deal upon the nature of the 
audience. " There is something or other in me which 
enables me to recognize instinctively the spiritual need 
of the audience, just as a dog instinctively traces out a 
scent more effectively than a learned man." 

Apropos of his method of preparing sermons we re 
marked : What about minds that are not fertile ? If 
they go into the pulpit as you do, without very carefully 
working out their sermons, they cannot hold the atten 
tion of the people." Said the Sadhu: "Only men 
called of God should enter His service as preachers. To 
these, though of poor intellect, God will give a message." 

"There was once a sweeper who became a Christian. 
He gave his heart to Christ. He found that Peace in 
Him, and was saved, and so could bear witness for Him. 
People would say, There is something in him that we 
have not got. In his preaching he was listened to with 
great attention. A passer-by asked, Why are they lis 
tening so respectfully to a sweeper? The sweeper said, 
When my Savior was going to Jerusalem riding on an 
ass, the people brought clothes and spread them under 
his feet. They did not spread their clothes under the 
feet of Christ but under the feet of the ass. Why do 
that for an ass? Because the King of Kings was riding 
on that ass. When the Christ got down from that ass, 
nobody cared about it. That ass was honored so long 
as the King of Kings was riding on it. 



168 SADHU SUNDAE SINGH 

"Have you any advice to give about the training of 
theological students?" "There should be more practi 
cal work. The professors themselves should go about the 
country for two or three months with their students to 
preach the Gospel." 

LIFE AND HOPE 

"Life and life abundant are not the same. There is 
a great difference between them. What is the use of 
mere life? Let me give you an illustration. I went to 
a hospital and saw a man laid up with illness. He was 
not in a dangerous condition and yet I heard the next 
day that he had died. How did he die? That night a 
cobra fell on his bed from the roof. He saw it coming 
from near his feet towards where his head lay, and was 
filled with fright. But he had not the strength either to 
leave the bed or to kill the snake. It bit him on the 
neck and he died. Then another man came and killed 
the snake. The man who died had life and yet what a 
difference! Though the one had life, he could not pro 
tect himself from danger, while the other protected him 
self and killed the snake. Many Christians also have 
life, but they are unable to protect themselves from the 
old serpent. They cannot overcome temptation. How 
can they save others? They will die in sin because the 
old serpent bites them and the poison spreads all over 
the body. But those who have the life abundant will 
kill the old serpent, and besides conquering temptation 
themselves will help others to do the same. This is life 
abundant. 

"If we can give ourselves to Him then He can work 
through us. If we put ourselves in His hands then He 



TABLE TALK 169 

can use us. Through those who are men of prayer He 
can do great things." 

"The servants of God are sometimes disheartened. 
The people do not care, they do not listen. Sometimes 
I have been myself disheartened. But I have learned 
that our part is to preach and bear witness. If we do 
this, then the Holy Spirit will work in their hearts. But 
we must do our part." 

"Let us never be discouraged by our weaknesses. 
The Sun has many spots. On that account does it cease 
to give light? So let us shine with the light which He, 
the True Light, gives us. He will remove our defects 
and make us perfect. Our duty is to shine. The fire-fly 
is one of the smallest of insects ; yet it gladdens the heart 
of the traveler with its tiny light." 

SERVICE 

"There was a rich man in a certain place. One day 
his son was sitting in his father s garden. At that time 
many birds came and ate up the fruits. Cattle trampled 
on the plants. The son saw, but did not drive them 
away. Is it right for you to see your father s garden 
destroyed in this way and keep quiet? Can you not 
drive these things out? said the people to him. My 
father has not asked me to do so, said the son. So 
that is not my work. Then the father, hearing of what 
happened, drove his son out of the house. For it is not 
a special voice, but the needs and imperfections of those 
around us which constitute a call for God s service." 

"In the mountainous regions of North India, where 
it is very cold, travelers are in the habit of keeping warm 
in this way. They take a small vessel, put burning coal 



170 SADHU SUNDAR SINGH 

in it and cover it up. They weave strings around it and 
wrapping it with cloth, carry it under their arms. 
Three men were traveling thus towards the sacred place 
known as Amarnath. One of them saw several others 
suffering with cold and, taking the fire out of his vessel, 
lit a fire so that every one could get warm. So every 
one left the place alive. When they had all to walk in 
the dark, the second man of the party took out the fire 
in his vessel and lit a torch with it and helped them all 
to walk along in safety. The third man of the party 
mocked them and said: You are fools. You have 
wasted your fire for the sake of others. Show us your 
fire ! said they to him. When he broke open his vessel 
there was no fire, but only ashes and coal. With his 
fire one had given warmth to others and another had 
given light. But the third man was selfish and kept the 
fire to himself, and it was of no use even to him. 

"In the same way, it is God s will that the fire of the 
Holy Spirit which we receive should give warmth and 
light to others and help them to be saved. Many people 
despise those who spend their health, strength and 
money for the salvation of others and call them mad. 
And yet it is they who will save many and who will be 
saved themselves. But those who are not anxious that 
others should share in the salvation they have received 
would lose their own salvation and find their way to 
hell on the last day. There is no use in their lamenting 
then. So we should try to save others even now." 

"There was a king reigning over the Kingdom of 
Paras. He saw that his subjects were very lazy, and 
was troubled in his mind as to how they would fight 
when enemies invaded the land. Seeing that it was of no 
use to give them advice, he rolled a big stone where 



TABLE TALK 171 

four roads met. Though the people saw this they did 
not attempt to remove the stone, but walked their own 
way. A week went by. Then the king ordered all his 
subjects to come together at that place. Then he lifted 
without any difficulty the stone, which was light as it 
was hollowed out. Under it was a bag filled with golden 
ornaments worth a lakh. On the bag were the words: 
This is for him who lifts the stone. The king showed 
them this and said : You lost this by your laziness. If 
you continue in this way you will lose this kingdom when 
enemies come. Every one who was there was sorry for 
having lost the opportunity of becoming enormously rich 
by having been afraid of trouble and labor. 

"Christ likewise calls us to bear the cross and to en 
dure suffering and sorrow for the salvation of others. 
Many go away unwilling to bear the cross, as they like 
to have wealth, health and influence. They think that 
the cross is heavy. But He says: My yoke is easy and 
my burden is light. When we carry it, we shall find 
that it is light. Moreover, when we lift the cross, we 
shall see below it throne and crown and glory. Here is 
the cross, but there is glory. So we must be prepared 
to spend our health, our strength, and, if need be, our 
lives, for the salvation of our countrymen." 

"There was a devout Christian who obeyed God s call 
and worked in God s vineyard. The people beat and ill- 
treated him and hung him on a tree upside down. But 
he said: I am not surprised that you hang me upside 
down. The world is upside down, and so the deeds of 
the world are also upside down. So you have hung me 
also upside down. For this I thank you. Magic lan 
tern slides are placed upside down, and then they are 
seen right side up on the screen. If they are right side 



172 SADHU SUNDAR SINGH 

up in the lantern they would come out upside down on 
the screen. Here you have tied me upside down, but I 
shall be right side up in the heavenly home. If I were 
right side up here, I should probably be upside down 
there. " 

RELIGION 

"Are not all religions much alike, they all teach good 
actions?" "Yes, but there is a great difference. 
Other religions say: Do all the good deeds you can, 
and you will at last become good. 1 Christianity says: 
Be good, and then you can do good it will come nat 
urally from a good heart. The change of heart must 
come first/ 

"What," we asked, "do you think of the Buddha and 
his message?" "He is not a mystic, but only a moral 
teacher. For there is nothing in his teaching about God. 
In such a man this is rather surprising. He preached 
Nirvana or the extinction of desire. But salvation is 
not the extinction of desire. It is the satisfaction of 
desire. The proper way to deal with thirst is not to kill 
it which would mean death but to satisfy it. 

* Suppose we write one and place a number of ciphers 
on its right hand side. The more the ciphers the larger 
is the figure. But any number of ciphers on its left-hand 
side are mere ciphers. Christ stands for number one. 
On His left hand is the world. The riches which those 
who seek the world acquire are mere ciphers. But on 
His right hand is Heaven. The riches acquired by those 
who seek this are limitless. 

"Sects are strange unnecessary things. There is one 
God, why have so many churches? Why cause dissen- 
i The same thought, but with a difference, occurs on p. 49. 



TABLE TALK 173 

sion ? But, I Suppose, this is the world. When all sects 
are one it will be the world no longer. It will be Heaven 
then." 

"One day I was passing through a street. I saw all 
the doors locked up. There was nobody to be seen. At 
once it occurred to me that so long as the heart is locked 
up against the Lord who made the heart, it is necessary 
to lock up all the doors in order to save property. But 
if the heart is opened to the Lord, then there will be 
no need to lock up the doors because there will be no 
thieves. 

PROVIDENCE 

"I saw a young man and asked him what work he 
was doing for his Savior. What has He done for me 
that I must do something for Him? he said. Has He 
not shed His blood, given His Life for you? I said. 
Stay, said he, was that only for me? He gave His 
Life for all. What has He done for me in particular that 
I should serve Him? After some months he became 
seriously ill and was on his death-bed. Then he was in 
the spirit and saw a vision. His room was covered with 
pictures portraying different events in his life. In one 
he is seen falling down as a child from a balcony up 
stairs. As he is falling down, a Man receives him in 
His arms and lets him down gently ; on His hands are the 
scars of nails. In another picture he slips from a rock 
and thinks he would certainly die. Then, too, a Man 
rescued him. On His hands he sees scars. In another 
picture he steps on a snake but One holds the snake so 
that it does not bite him. On His hands are also scars. 
Then when in the privacy of a room he is sinning, He 
appears before him and, showing him His wounds, pleads 



174 SADHU SUNDAR SINGH 

with him not to sin. As he saw all these pictures, He 
came and stood near him and said: Though I have 
done all this for you, you thought that I had not done 
anything for you. You are going to die now. If you 
die you are sure to enter eternal hell. But this time also 
I shall sa-ve you from death. Go and proclaim to every 
one the great things which the Lord has done for you. 
So when he got well he became a servant of God. When 
I saw him again he told me, with great anguish : In my 
ignorance I thought that God had done nothing for me. 
When on different occasions I escaped calamities my 
parents and I thought that they were due either to good 
luck or chance. But now I know that it is the Savior 
who has promised to be with us to the end of the world 
who is with me every day of my life and protects me 
from all dangers. " 



THE HEREAFTER 

"To the chick in the shell its eyes and wings are suf 
ficient evidence of a world beyond. The eye is for sight, 
but what can it see within the shell ? The wings are for 
flight, but how can it fly within the shell? It is there 
fore clear that the eyes and the wings are not for the lif* 
within the shell, but for the life outside the shell. In 
the same way there are many good desires and ambitions 
which cannot be fulfilled here. There must be an op 
portunity for their fulfillment. That is in Eternity. 

* Certain conditions must be observed if WB are to en 
joy hereafter the bliss of Heaven and not the punish 
ment of Hell. The mother s warmth is necessary for the 
chicken to come out alive, or the egg would become rotten 
and be thrown away. As it is necessary for the chick to 



TABLE TALK 175 

receive warmth, even while in the shell, it is necessary 
for us to receive the warmth of the Holy Spirit to live 
even while on this earth. Just as the chick comes out, 
we shall also leave this world and, entering the kingdom 
of heaven, enjoy eternal bliss. 

"Many discuss the Hereafter and say that after death 
we shall become nothing, and that it is idle to talk about 
Heaven and Hell. This reminds one of a conversation 
said to have taken place between a hen and her un- 
hatched chicken. The hen spoke to a chick, and said, 
Little one, in a minute or two you will leave this shell. 
Then you will see me, your mother. You will also see 
the world around you filled with beautiful flowers and 
trees. But the chick obstinately maintained that all 
that talk about mother and the world was a lie. But 
soon the shell broke and the chick came out. It saw its 
mother and the world around, and knew that its mother s 
words were all true. So those who say that there is no 
Heaven or Hell will find out the truth when the shell 
of their body breaks and their soul comes out. 

"When you go to a strange country it is good to have 
a friend who will be kind to you. Become friends with 
Jesus Christ ; then in Heaven you will have a friend. 



AN INDIAN CHRISTIANITY 
CHRISTIANITY AND NATIONAL GENIUS 

IN Europe Christianity has become differentiated into 
three main types, Latin, Greek and Teutonic the last 
being further differentiated into many sub-types. These 
correspond to the genius and temperament of the peo 
ples predominant in different areas. It is to be expected 
that at no distant date, at least three more types will 
emerge an Indian, a Chinese and a Japanese. But in 
Europe the differentiation of racial and national types 
of Christianity a thing in itself inevitable and up to a 
point desirable has come about in a way which has been 
wholly disastrous. This no doubt has been mainly due 
to the fact that religious questions have been complicated 
with political; but the result has been that what was 
meant to be the religion of mankind as such, a bond of 
unity and peace transcending all divisions of race and 
class and culture, has in practice tended rather to en 
hance the bitterness of existing feuds. Energies, which 
properly applied might have regenerated the world, have 
been dissipated in internecine struggle. Perhaps the 
greatest problem before the rapidly maturing churches 
of the East is how to achieve a truly national expression 
of Christianity while avoiding mistakes, which, while not 
exactly the same, may well be as calamitous as those 
which have paralyzed the Christianity of Europe. 

176 



AN INDIAN CHRISTIANITY 177 

Baron von Hiigel, at his interview with the Sadhu, was 
particularly impressed by his views on this problem. In 
the memorandum which he wrote for us he very pene 
tratingly sums up the Sadhu ? s attitude. "The Sadhu 
most rightly does not, by a specifically Indian Christi 
anity, mean a Christianity so much adapted to Indian 
thought as to cease to be a living Christianity. Thus 
his reaction, e.g., against Brahman teaching and method, 
is assuredly not chargeable with insufficiency. Indeed 
the Sadhu s entire general outlook, in all its positive fea 
tures, does not, in its grandly non-pantheistic, its per- 
sonalist and historical connections, simply echo or take 
over en bloc, any of the strains actually predominant in 
Indian philosophy and religion. He no more, because 
he is an Indian, takes over wholesale the extant, directly 
manifest, peculiarities of Indian thought than did St. 
Paul, because he was a Jew, take over wholesale the ex 
tant, directly manifest peculiarities of Jewish thought, 
or than St. Augustine, because he was an African Ro 
man, took over wholesale the extant, readily seizable, 
special features of the African Roman mind. Yet both 
St. Paul and St. Augustine were proud of being respec 
tively Jew and Roman, and were anxious to remain as 
Jewish and Roman as deep Christianity allowed. So 
also the Sadhu is most rightly proud of being an Indian, 
and is anxious to remain as Indian as deep Christianity 
allows." 

In our view, this exactly expresses the Sadhu s po 
sition. 

"Once when I was traveling in Rajputana," said the 
Sadhu, "there was a Brahman of high caste hurrying to 
the station. Overcome by the great heat, he fell down 
on the platform. The Anglo-Indian station-master was 



178 SADHU SUNDAR SINGH 

anxious to help him. He brought him some water in a 
white cup, but he would not take the water. He was so 
thirsty, but he said, * I cannot drink that water. I would 
prefer to die. We are not asking you to eat this cup, 
they said to him. I will not break my caste, he said, I 
am willing to die. But when water was brought to him 
in his own brass vessel, he drank it eagerly. When it 
was brought to him in his own way he did not object. 
It is the same with the Water of Life. Indians do need 
the Water of Life, but not in the European cup. 

The Sadhu s own method of teaching is characteristi 
cally Indian. A sage frequently, a popular teacher al 
ways, speaks in pictures and argues in pictures. Often 
he also thinks in pictures; and Sundar, coming as he 
does in the line of Indian seers and poets, follows the 
same method. This is even more noticeable in his ordi 
nary talk than in his public addresses. The illustra 
tions he uses in these latter might conceivably be the 
result of careful thought, but as one listens to him in 
private, one perceives that it is in and by vivid pictures 
that his own mind works ; and often remarks thrown off 
on the spur of the moment are masterpieces of imagina 
tion and expression. 

This, however, it might be said, is not so much Indian 
as Eastern; yet, among Easterns, who but an Indian 
would have been so enraptured by St. John s philosophy 
of Logos, Life and Love, and have then translated it into 
vivid parable? 

Specifically Indian, too, is the instinct which led the 
Sadhu in search of saints brooding in inaccessible spots 
on the Himalayas over God and Eternity, and which 
determined the intense interest he took in the venerable 
Maharishi, whom he found on Kail ash a name hal- 



AN INDIAN CHRISTIANITY 179 

lowed in Hindu Literature by endless sacred associa 
tions. Both the hermit, who seeks the absolute solitude 
of forest, mountain-cave or desert to meditate alone, and 
the monk, to whom the life of communion with the Di 
vine seems easier in a community of kindred souls, are 
to be found in East and West alike. But while corporate 
devotion the Catholic Mass, the Evangelical prayer- 
meeting, the Quaker silence is characteristic of the 
West, India has been the hermit s classic land. It is the 
Indian in the Sadhu that longs to live the life of such 
solitary contemplation did not the love of Christ con 
strain him to choose rather work for the salvation of his 
fellow-men. 

One who is himself so completely Indian naturally de 
sires a completely Indian Church. 

"What will the future church of India be/ he was 
asked, "Church of England, Wesleyan, Baptist, or 
what?" "There will be only an Indian Church," he 
replied, "a Church constituted according to Indian 
methods and ideals." He does not think the Indian 
Church can yet stand alone. Missionaries are still re 
quired to train Indian Christian leaders; but these must 
gradually be given more and more responsibility. 
"When a person wants to learn to swim he must first of 
all learn how he should swim on land. But he must 
then get into the water, first into the shallow, afterwards 
in the deep. So carefully trained Indian leaders must 
first be placed in places of moderate responsibility where 
they can learn, then by and by they will be able to make 
their churches strong and we may expect great things. 
In some places they have already begun to do that." 

He enforces this estimate both of the strength and 
weakness of the Indian Church by a parable, probably 



180 SADHU SUNDAR SINGH 

suggested by the popular picture of Mother India," 
painted on the map with her head crowned by the Hima 
layas and her feet upon the lotus of Ceylon. 

"We can compare India to a man. The Himalayas 
are his head, South India is his feet, Punjab his right 
hand and Bengal his left. If this man is to stand firm 
he has to stand on South India, his feet. South India 
is indeed fit for this. The Christians of South India are 
very advanced, in numbers as well as in education. 1 
But, though many of these churches are self-supporting, 
and though this man can stand on these feet, he is unable 
to walk now. What is the reason ? I saw a Jew in the 
state of Cochin. He stood, but could not walk. Why? 
Because he had elephantiasis which made his legs swollen 
and heavy. The Indian Church is unable to proclaim 
the Gospel all over India and to save the whole country 
because of the elephantiasis of the Indian Church of 
the south. Caste distinction is its main weakness. 
Through this and other causes there is lack of love, and 
therefore lack of anxiety to save others. If this disease 
is healed the Church of South India will be used as an 
instrument, and guide the other churches of India. " 

By adopting the life of a sadhu, Sundar is deliber 
ately attempting to Indianize Christianity. And his at 
tempt, as we shall indicate later, may raise issues more 
fundamental than he has probably foreseen. But in 
other respects the Indianization of Christianity he has 
in mind is mainly a matter of externals. To a friend 

i English readers may be reminded that there are churches in 
Travancore and Cochin which claim to have been founded by the 
Apostle Thomas, and which in any case probably date back at 
least as early as the second century, A.D. 



AN INDIAN CHRISTIANITY 181 

who once asked him how Christianity could be national 
ized in India, he replied: "The people should sit down 
on the floor in church. They should take off their shoes 
instead of their turbans. Indian music should be sung. 
Long, informal addresses should take the place of ser 
mons." So far as fundamentals are concerned, Christi 
anity to the Sadhu is supra-national. It is the religion 
neither of the East nor of the West, but of Humanity. 

Just as Christ said of the Jewish Law and Prophets, 
that He came not to destroy but to fulfill, so, as the 
Sadhu sees it, is His religion related to the nobler ele 
ments in Hinduism. 

" Christianity is the fulfillment of Hinduism. Hindu 
ism has been digging channels. Christ is the water to 
flow through these channels. The Bhagavad Gita is very 
much like St. John s Gospel. It is probable, as one of 
my friends suggested, that a Hindu took St. John s 
thoughts and put them into Hindu form. 1 The Bhagavad 
Gita was composed in the second century A. D., and at 
that time there were Christians in India. Heat from 
the sun is stored up in the earth. It comes out when 
stone comes into friction with stone. Non-Christian 
thinkers also have received light from the Sun of Right 
eousness. The Hindus have received of the Holy Spirit. 
There are many beautiful things in Hinduism, but the 
fullest light is from Christ. Every one is breathing air. 
So every one, Christian as well as non-Christian, is 

i Few students of Indian literature would agree that this was 
probable. But even if not true of the historical, the remark well 
illustrates the philosophical and religious relationship which 
the Sadhu conceives to exist between what he regards as the 
mountain-tops of Hindu and Christian inspiration. 



182 SADHU SUNDAR SINGH 

breathing the Holy Spirit, though they do not call it 
by that name. The Holy Spirit is not the private prop 
erty of some special people." 

Why then, it will be asked, does the Sadhu so often 
seem to go out of his way to assert that he himself gained 
but little from the study of the Hindu sacred books, 
and nothing at all from the characteristically Hindu 
religious practice of Yoga? 

Converts are proverbially inclined to be the severest 
critics of their old faith. Naturally a man does not 
at a great cost to himself exchange one religion for an 
other unless he feels intensely the strong points of the 
new and the weak points of the old. Some Indian con 
verts Pandita Ramabi is a notable instance can see 
nothing in Hinduism but a " power of darkness." * But 
this does not explain the Sadhu s attitude. The darker 
side of Hinduism he never alludes to, at least we can 
quote no such allusion. He rarely if ever denounces 
the grosser abuses of the popular religion. His criti 
cisms of Hinduism appear to be mainly directed, not 
against its weak, but against its strong points its phil 
osophic Pantheism, the doctrine of Karma, the Path of 
Knowledge (Jnana-marga), 2 the practice of Yoga, the 
Ascetic ideal. 

The real answer to our question must be sought else 
where. The Sadhu, as we have again and again reiter 
ated, is a mystic whose mysticism centers on Christ, he 
is one who has fallen in love though that or any meta 
phor is far too feeble with Christ. And, compared 
with the light of the knowledge and love of Christ by 
which he himself now walks, the highest illumination 

iCf. International Review of Missions, April, 1920, p. 223. 
2Cf. p. 143. 



AN INDIAN CHRISTIANITY 183 

known to Hindu Saints seems to him as a twilight glim 
mer to the noonday sun. What they possessed no doubt 
was good. But now a far better thing is offered. And 
to choose the merely good when one may have the best is 
definitely to take the lower path. 

PHILOSOPHIC PANTHEISM 

Hinduism, on its philosophical side, is far too impos 
ing a structure to be demolished merely by telling epi 
grams and happily conceived illustrations. And any one 
who goes to the Sadhu s utterances for a reasoned in 
tellectual criticism either of Pantheism or of doctrines 
like Karma or Jnana, which have been previously touched 
on, he will be disappointed. The Sadhu emphatically is 
not a philosopher. He himself would be the first to dis 
claim any pretense of being one. His mind is rather 
that of the prophet a type closer akin to the poet than 
to the philosopher. Just as the artist is the man who 
can see beauty where others miss it and then show it to 
the world, so the prophet is one who has the eye for 
moral and religious values and the power vividly to pre 
sent them to mankind. The intuitive perception of 
value, whether esthetic or ethical, is different from the 
purely intellectual discernment of logical cogency, which 
is a mark of the philosopher, or from the capacity to 
apprefiend the laws which coordinate the results of ob 
servation, which characterizes the scientist. The Sadhu s 
criticisms of Hinduism are of importance, not as intel 
lectual arguments, but as indications of just how and 
where his "prophetic" temper "senses" a deficiency in 
the matter of these values. 

The fundamental assertion of Religion is that Reality 



184 SADHU SUNDAR SINGH 

is in the last resort good; and that, therefore, if we 
search long enough, we shall discover that the best is 
also the most true. But untutored man is no better 
judge of what is best than of what is most beautiful; 
moral insight is as rare as good taste. It is the special 
function of the prophet to help men to see more clearly 
what really is the best. The philosopher is required to 
prove that it is also true. But the philosopher can do 
this only if in his search the question he puts first is, 
not what is best, but what is most true. Accordingly it 
is very difficult for the same man to be both prophet 
and philosopher. The Sadhu conspicuously is not both. 
But surely in India, the land of philosophy, it will not 
be long before the Christian Church can produce a phil 
osopher to match her prophet. 

The Sadhu s frequent criticisms of Pantheism are 
largely a reaction against his Indian environment. It 
would not be true to say that all Hindus are Pantheists 
^-Ramanuja, for instance, whose philosophy has pro 
vided an intellectual basis for Bhakti * worship, is the 
notable exception. Still, in India, a Pantheism based 
mainly on the Monism of the great Sankara, is the dom 
inant philosophy of religion. The Christian mystics of 
the West, where popular religion has tended to empha 
size only the Divine Transcendence, are usually to be 
found insisting on the aspect of Immanence. In an 
opposite environment, the Sadhu emphasizes the op- 

i BhaJcti means "loving devotion," that being the attitude to 
the Divine inculcated by the poets and thinkers who founded the 
religious movement so named. They flourished in different parts 
of India from the Middle Ages onward, and mainly wrote in the 
languages of the people. One of the beat known is Kabir, familiar 
to English readers in the translation of Rabindranath Tagore. 
Cf. Art. "Bhakti Marga," in Encyclopedia of Religion and Ethics. 



AN INDIAN CHRISTIANITY 185 

posite aspect of the truth. But that element in Pan 
theism which constitutes its specifically religious value 
its insistence on the closeness and intimacy and the 
inward character of the relationship of the soul to the 
Divine is of the essence of his message. 

"Muhammadan and Hindu mystics have mistakenly 
sought an absorption into the Great Spirit like the sink 
ing of the river in the ocean. The ideal is to be in, but 
not to lose yourself in, the Great Spirit." Again: 
"Plindus commonly like St. John s Gospel; I in You 
and You in Me appeals to them. But they are apt to 
be confused by their Pantheism. Christ s oneness with 
the Father and His oneness with ourselves is different. 
Light is Sun, and Sun is Light. Heat is Sun, and Sun 
is Heat. But you cannot say Heat is Light. Christ is 
the Light of the World. The Holy Spirit is the Heat 
of the World. Christ is not the Holy Spirit. Pantheism 
which blurs a distinction between me and God loses the 
main point. If I am to enjoy God, I must be different 
from God. The tongue could not enjoy sweetmeats if 
there were no difference between it and them. 

"If we are God," he once said, "there is no need 
for worship. Pantheism has no sense of sin, and so 
there is a tendency to immoral lives." 

Baron von Hiigel remarked to him : " I am surprised 
that you are so free from Pantheism. 

"In the early stages of my Christian career," said 
the Sadhu, "I had some leanings towards Pantheism 
myself. I used to think that the wonderful peace I 
had was probably the result of my being God or a part 
of God. 1 But two arguments have removed this doubt, 

i Thig ie held to be literally true of a Hindu sannyasi, cf. 
p. 189. 



186 SADHU SUNDAR SINGH 

the first, that while practicing Yoga I did not have that 
peace; the second, that occasionally I feel gloom and 
depression from the consciousness of God abandoning 
me." 

YOGA AND BHAKTI 

The mystic tendency in India may be said, generally 
speaking, to have followed two main lines of develop 
ment that of Yoga and that of Bhakti. These are re 
garded sometimes as supplementary, sometimes as con 
trasted, methods to be followed in the quest for the 
Divine. There are many ways of Yoga and there are 
several sects of Bhakti and these differ enormously in 
moral and spiritual value. There is a Yoga which, in 
principle, is not far removed from some of the con 
templative devotions which the Catholic cloister has de 
vised. There is a Yoga which is a mere trick of self- 
induced hypnosis, a trance-practice profitless and ener 
vating to mind and heart and will. There are Bhakti 
sects which can justly claim a place among the higher 
religions of the world. There are others which counte 
nance, some which even aim at, a religious exaltation 
which finds symbols of mystic union in rites of an im 
moral character. 

But between Yoga and Bhakti, apart from these es 
sential differences within the connotation of each word, 
there is a broad and general distinction a distinction 
which, if for the sake of a " bird s-eye view" we are 
content to ignore subtler shades and differences, we may 
roughly express in a series of contrasts. The Yogin 
seeks the bliss of contact with the Absolute by rigor 
and self-discipline; the Bhakta seeks it through the 
beauty of song, dance and hymn. The former tries to 



AN INDIAN CHRISTIANITY 187 

suppress his desires, the latter to express them. The 
watchword of the former is "concentration," mainly an 
intellectual effort ; the watchword of the latter is * devo 
tion," largely an emotional "abandon." To the Yogin 
Peace is the goal of the mystic quest; to the Bhakta, 
Joy. The former tries to satisfy man s craving for the 
changeless by penetrating ever deeper into the spiritual 
profound ; the latter is allured by exuberant vitality, ex 
pressed symbolically in movement and rhythm. The for 
mer is individualistic, preoccupied with solitary medita 
tion; the latter is social, deriving joy and inspiration 
from the company of kindred souls. The Yogin neglects 
the accompaniments of sacerdotal worship, and loves the 
seclusion of forest or cave; the Bhakta makes full use of 
temple, idol, hymn. The former may adore Eternal 
Being whether personally or impersonally conceived ; the 
latter s rich and full devotion is directed towards a 
Rama or a Krishna, who represents the supreme Divinity 
in human form. 

The Sadhu frequently asserts that he has been in 
fluenced by neither the Yoga nor the Bhakti schools of 
thought, nor can it for one moment be maintained that 
the essential elements of his religion have been derived 
from outside the Christian tradition. An English 
reader, who had never heard of Yoga or of Bhakti, would 
say at once of the man who speaks in these pages that 
his outlook and experience have demonstrably been 
moulded by the New Testament with perhaps here and 
there a touch of influence from St. Francis of Assisi and 
St. Thomas a Kempis but that nothing else has counted. 

And yet, and yet . . . 

Yoga, or at least one of the ways of Yoga, as he con 
stantly himself recalls, he tried as a boy, and persevered 



188 SADHU SUNDAR SINGH 

in trying tried it and found it wanting. And the 
Yogin s passion for peace was the form in which he first 
felt that thirst of the soul for higher things which, it 
would seem, in all men is a prelude to the divine illumina 
tion. Though the Yogin s "peace" through "concen 
tration" the Sanskrit Samadhi is translated by either 
of those two words is quite different from that joyous 
Peace of God of which the Sadhu speaks. Again, can 
we entirely disconnect with this early quest and practice 
the part played in his religious life by the fact of 
Ecstasy? The experience of Ecstasy is common with 
Western Mystics ; but in the frequency of its occurrence, 
in the supreme importance he attaches to it, and, it must 
be added, in the entire lack of that misgiving which 
made many of the Catholic mystics inquire carefully 
about each vision before they dare be sure that all of 
them were of God the mysticism of the Sadhu has 
points of contact with the higher Yogic type. There is, 
however, one difference, and that absolutely fundamental, 
between the Sadhu s and the Yogic mysticism, namely, 
the intensification in his Ecstasy of the Christ-control 
of normal life. 

There is no evidence that the Bhakti poets were among 
the Hindu books he specially studied as a boy; though 
in the Bhagavad Gita, which he knew by heart, there are 
elements closely akin to Bhakti. It is noticeable also 
that he never uses the erotic imagery familiar to 
Bhakti found too in many Christian mystics to ex 
press the soul s intimacy with or longing for the Divine. 
Profounder calm rather than enhanced excitement ac 
companies his religious experience when most intense. 
In his advice to others he shows awareness of the dangers 
of emotion in religion. But there is a strain in him of 



AN INDIAN CHRISTIANITY 189 

the Bhakta s longing, though rigorously controlled. 
Once when the conversation turned on the Bhakti poets, 
and how they often say that in hours of spiritual exalta 
tion their hair stands on end, tears flow from their eyes, 
and their body thrills with rapture: "These," he said, 
"are only outward expression. Eeality is beyond them. 
Usually my joy has taken an exceedingly quiet form. 
Sometimes it has shown itself in a different way. My 
hair has stood on end. Tears have run down my cheeks. 
But my body has never shivered with ecstasy. The peace 
and joy which I experience are contagious. Once I 
found others in my company shedding tears of joy as 
I did." 

He sought, and he has found, the Yogin s Peace, the 
Bhakta s Joy as well found them and more also, and 
more abundantly, in Christ. Who that has read this 
book so far can fail to see that Christianity, as the Sadhu 
feels and lives it, is not only the religion of the New 
Testament unadulterated and undefiled, but is also, in 
a sense no Westerner can ever apprehend, the consum 
mation and the crown of Hinduism the Way, which 
has as goal the synthesis and sublimation of both the 
Yogin s and the Bhakta s quest? 

THE SADHU IDEAL* 

We come now to the most distinctively Indian element 
in the Sadhu s conception and presentation of Christi 
anity. In the Middle Ages, especially in the Franciscan 
movement, something similar was attempted in the West. 
The practice and ideals of St. Francis of Assisi are in 
many respects identical with those of Sundar Singh, and 
i Cf . also the remarks on this subject, p. 1 1 /. 



190 SADHU SUNDAR SINGH 

possibly even may have not been without some influence 
upon him. Yet the incentive to carry out the ideal in 
this twentieth century is definitely traceable to the ad 
miration instilled into him by his mother for Hindu 
sadhus whom he visited in her company as a boy, and 
for their way of living. "You must not," she used to 
say, "be careless and worldly like your brothers. You 
must seek peace of soul and love religion, and some day 
you must become a holy sadhu." "It was the Holy 
Ghost," he said once, "who made me a Christian, but 
it was my mother who made me a sadhu." 

Unlike, however, the typical Hindu sadhu, Sundar 
Singh is definitely not an ascetic who attempts to ac 
cumulate merit or achieve perfection by self-inflicted 
suffering. He prefers to describe himself as a "preach 
ing friar." Nor does he say that the world and every 
thing connected with it is evil. On the other hand, he 
often gives expression to the conviction that because 
God is good the world He has made must be also good. 

"I tell Hindu sadhus: You are sadhus because you 
want to torture yourself. I am a sadhu to serve. I do 
not torture myself, though I have been tortured. I have 
not renounced the world. I want to be in the world 
and yet not of the world/ 

"Once I passed through a village on the Himalayas 
and saw a huge pile of dirt and dung. The smell that 
issued from it was so bad that I vomited. After some 
days I passed the same place again. I noticed a sweet 
smell covering up the bad odor. I was surprised and 
I wanted to find out what had caused the difference. 
Some flowers had come out and spread fragrance around. 
Heat and light from the sun had given beautiful color 
and sweet smell to the flowers. The place was filthy but 



AN INDIAN CHRISTIANITY 191 

the filth itself had become manure. So we are living in 
the dirt and filth of this world. But if, like the flowers, 
our hearts are open to the Sun of Righteousness, then, 
just like flowers, we shall receive from Him spiritual color 
and fragrance, and the things of this world, like manure, 
will help us in our spiritual life. 

" Sitting in a garden I have thought within myself 
thus: These flowers, fruits and so on have been created. 
They are not for God, nor for the angels, not for Satan, 
nor for the animals. They are for men. Then why 
should we renounce them?" 

The supreme practical test of the meaning of these 
general principles will appear when we indicate his atti 
tude towards Money and towards Marriage. But. in 
general, Sundar s motives for adopting the sadhu life 
are clear. He has done this because it gives him com 
plete freedom, it releases him from the distractions of 
earthly business, it enables him to practice the virtues so 
extolled in Indian books, of regarding in the same spirit 
fortune as well as misfortune; because, principally, it 
seems to him the best way to commend the Gospel to the 
multitudes of India, perhaps, too though he never says 
this because that life more than any other makes pos 
sible the literal imitation of the life of Jesus, and, finally, 
because he has the unanalyzable but imperative convic 
tion that he has been called by God to do so. 

MONEY 

He carries no money with him. How he manages in 
the West has already been described. 1 Once indeed on 
the advice of friends he did start to carry money but 
iCf. p. 34. 



192 SADHU SUNDAR SINGH 

he soon gave it up. "I don t like to put my trust in 
my pocket but in God. There may be holes in pockets. 
There are also pickpockets. But we are safe if we trust 
in Him. We find in Him everything we desire. If 
I were a rich man, my resources, however large, would 
be limited. But, as God is my loving Father, all the 
world is mine." 

In the earlier years of his life as a sadhu he often 
had to go without food, if no one invited him home for 
a meal, since he had no money with which to buy one. 
But now that his name is so well known this difficulty 
has largely disappeared. Indeed, sometimes when he 
has to go from one place to another, twenty-five people 
struggle to buy a ticket for him. 

The wisdom of this practice of the Sadhu must be 
judged from the standpoint of Indian traditions. In 
the West it would not be possible for a man, however 
sincere, to live on alms without ultimately losing the 
respect of others, and probably in the long-run his self- 
respect as well. Even if the experiment did succeed in 
the case of some exceptional individual, it would break 
down with his followers. The Franciscan ideal in its 
original form had ultimately to be practically abandoned, 
and it was more feasible in the Middle Ages than it 
would be now. The practice, however, of St. Paul, who 
supported himself while preaching the Gospel by what 
we should call "half-time work" as a tentmaker, is pos 
sible in the West and deserves, one might even say de 
mands, revival. But India has a totally different tradi 
tion in these matters, and what would be a mistake in 
the West may well turn out to be an inspiration for 
India. 

Renouncing money for himself, the Sadhu strongly 



AN INDIAN CHRISTIANITY 193 

condemns all, especially ministers of religion, who receive 
money for doing work, and do not do it heart and soul. 
"We ought to do God s work with the love which His 
children ought to have towards Him. Let us do it, not 
because, like hirelings, we feel we are going to be paid 
for our work, but, in the spirit of love, because it is our 
Father s work. And yet how many servants of God do 
their work perfunctorily, even though they receive sal 
aries! Others there are who simply continue to receive 
their salary without doing any work. Their end is de 
struction. 

There was a governor in Nepal. He sent three men 
to work in his garden. One was to receive eight annas ; 
another twelve annas; but the third, being a slave, was 
to receive nothing. The governor hid himself at a dis 
tance and watched their work. The man who was to re 
ceive eight annas laid himself down under a tree and 
slept without doing anything. The man whose wages 
were twelve annas worked hard. The slave was doing 
his work with all his heart as if it were his own work. 
In the evening the master sent for the servants and 
began paying them. The servant who was to have re 
ceived eight annas came. You were lazy and slept 
under a tree/ said the master to him. So on that same 
tree I shall hang you. And he hanged him on that 
same tree. The second man approached with fear. The 
master was pleased with him and besides the twelve 
annas appointed gave him a present. Then came the 
slave. What are your wages? asked the master. 
Thou art the lord who hast purchased me, said the 
slave. I am bound to serve thee all my life. Thou art 
my father. What thou givest me for food and clothing 
is ample for me. Because you wrought not for wages, 



194 SADHU SUNDAE SINGH 

but for the love you bore me/ answered the master, de 
lighted at his faithfulness, hereafter you shall be my 
son. All my possessions shall become yours. Not hav 
ing any children of his own, he adopted the slave as his 
son. When the man who was to be hung saw this he 
was moved with deep sorrow, saying to himself, * Alas ! 
If I had worked like him, I might also have had the 
same good fortune/ We also are sent to work in God s 
vineyard. To receive salary is not wrong; but to be 
idle though we receive a salary, or not to do God s work 
on the ground that we shall do it only when we receive 
a certain salary, is wrong. If, like that slave, we work 
in a spirit of love, feeling it is our Father s work, we 
shall surely become heirs of his heavenly Kingdom." 

MARRIAGE 

One evening, when walking back from a meeting, he 
was asked: "Sadhuji, will you ever get married?" 
"I am already married," said the Sadhu. 
1 What ! already married ? 
"Yes, I am already married to Christ." 
"A friend once asked me why I did not marry," he 
said another time. "I get greater happiness from the 
friendship of my Lord." He seems also to have a fear, 
grounded on St. Paul s words, that if he married he 
might seek too much to please his wife, and would not 
devote his whole energy to God. 

But while he himself does not think of marriage, he 
does not advise others to remain unmarried. A mar 
ried clergyman, who was deeply moved by his addresses, 
inquired of him anxiously how he, being a married man, 
could serve the Lord as effectively as the unmarried 



AN INDIAN CHRISTIANITY 195 

Sadhu; the Sadhu assured him that even as a married 
man he could be a faithful minister of God. The ques 
tion of a head for a Kristikul a proposed institution 
for training, young men to be Christian Sadhus came 
up for discussion once. He thought it was not necessary 
for that man to be celibate. "Was not a married man 
at the head of a Gurukul for several years ? " 1 

He has none of the ascetic s disposition to despise or 
avoid women. He emphasizes the love that women 
showed to Christ on earth, and how they used to tend 
Him ; and he suggests that they appreciated the Master 
more than men did, because having a greater capacity 
for love than men, they had really more in common with 
Him. 2 The Sadhu himself moves among women with 
unembarrassed ease; and he has women friends with 
whom he keeps in close touch through correspondence. 
Of his dead mother he always speaks in terms of the 
deepest love and reverence, and perhaps it is when he 
sits among women, chatting informally, that the depths 
of tenderness and affection in his nature become most 
apparent. 

A Hindu sannyasi may not even speak to a woman; 
a sadhu, less strict, sometimes will. And in Hindu 
sacred books quite often as indeed not infrequently in 
the writings of Christian Fathers woman is a thing of 
evil, a temptation and a snare, to avoid which is in itself 
a virtue. Here conspicuously has Sundar succeeded in 
Christianizing the Sadhu ideal. But it is just here also 
where in certain ages the Christian Church of the 
"West has partly failed that the sadhu ideal, if it be 

i Ourukul is the name given to a school there are now, we 
believe, three such in which prospective Gurus, i.e. teachers, are 
educated by the Arya Samaj. 

2 Cf. A. Zahir, Soul-Stirring Addresses, p. 45. 



196 SADHU SUNDAR SINGH 

interpreted by men less deeply imbued than Sundar 
with Christ s own views of women and of marriage, 
might easily retard the healthy development of the In 
dian Church. 

THE CHRISTIAN SADHU AND THE FUTURE 

The consequences for India of this pioneer attempt to 
Christianize the sadhu ideal no man can foretell. Al 
ready four hundred young men have come to Sundar 
Singh, passionate to follow his example. Many of them 
he thought might be influenced by the emotion of the 
moment and would not have strength to persevere in so 
hard a life. Better not to attempt it than to begin and 
lay it down. He has told them to watch and pray; to 
make sure of, and then to follow the path, whatever 
it be, to which they are bidden by the Divine call. He 
has been asked to become the Head of a School to train 
men for the. sadhu life. He declines. Buildings and 
organizations smack too much of the West. If he does 
anything of the sort he will do it in the Indian way. 
Religious orders and institutions rarely keep their first 
spirit after the founder s death. The Indian Guru takes 
five or six pupils to be with him and to share his life. 
That, thinks the Sadhu, is the better way or at least 
the only way he would care to try. 

Suppose, then, that all over India there should arise 
Christian sadhus. In a country so open to the appeal 
of religion the effect might be stupendous. . . . 

But there would be some dangers. 

St. Francis could acknowledge, and acknowledge joy 
fully, the authority of Pope and Church, in discipline 
and in theology. At the opposite pole of Western Chris- 



AN INDIAN CHRISTIANITY 197 

tianity the Quaker mystic is subject, at least in conduct, 
to a very real discipline administered by the brother 
hood. And experience suggests that for the individual 
himself, however much inspired, it may not be spiritually 
harmful to have to stop and think, perhaps even for a 
time to submit to some restraint of speech and action, 
at the instance of the leaders of his Church provided 
always such restriction is not too unintelligent and too 
rigid, and that he is prepared, after due hesitation, to 
speak or act and take the consequences. 

But a sadhu acknowledges no such authority. His 
one standard in thought or in practice is the inner light. 
In the West, especially in Anglo-Saxon countries, most 
men are up to a point, even though they do not recog 
nize the fact, individualistic in religion. But let any 
one make a Gospel of his private views and he is at 
once regarded as a crank. A shrewd, though kindly, 
public tolerates its cranks, it may even be a little proud 
of them ; but, before it accepts any man as prophet, he 
must have approved himself by lapse of time and by a 
variety of unwritten subtle tests, which few can pass 
who are not really prophets. But what may happen in 
a country where any one given that he has a mystic 
or ascetic turn of mind, which in India are fairly com 
mon may don a sadhu s robe, and with it at least some 
thing of a sadhu s prestige? 

In the first and second centuries A.D. the wandering 
"prophet," whether mystic, preacher, theosophist or 
ascetic, proved to be a useful ferment, a valuable stim 
ulus to experiment and thought, but also a source of 
danger and distraction to the Church. Any one who 
has studied the intellectual, religious and social back 
ground of the Early Church as recovered by recent re- 



198 SADHU SUNDAB SINGH 

search, and then visits India, wakes up to find that, so 
far as the religious situation is concerned, the centuries 
have vanished and he is again with differences, of 
course, history never quite repeats itself in the Graeco- 
Roman Empire of the second century. 1 Many of the 
problems which perplexed the Early Church are likely to 
recur in India in only slightly different form. But with 
the experience of twenty centuries, the spread of educa 
tion, the advance of science, and where the value of 
visions or fancied revelations is the question the advent 
of Psychology to light their path, the Church authorities 
of the present day should be able to solve them always 
more easily, sometimes, perhaps, more wisely. 

Among the Christian sadhus of the future there may 
arise Apostles, Prophets, Evangelists, but also, it may 
be, Anarchists, Antinomians, Heresiarchs. Some may 
be inclined in the one direction or the other by the atti 
tude which Church authorities adopt towards them in 
dividually. Truth and right are one, error and unright 
are manifold, and where there is sympathy and a wise 
liberty or better, where a liberty going beyond what 
most would consider wise is allowed errors and ex 
travagances tend to cancel one another. 

A survey of the history of religion reveals the rule 
that progress has resulted wherever there has been suc 
cessful cooperation between the men who are organizers 
of corporate worship and teachers of the achievement of 
the past in doctrine and in ethics, and the men who have 
the new vision, who embody the freedom of the Spirit 
whether these two types be called priest and prophet, 

i This experience occurred to myself in 1913, and, a little 
later, quite independently, to my friend, Mr. T. R. Glover, of 
Cambridge. See his book, The Jesus of History, ch. ix. B. H. S. 



AN INDIAN CHRISTIANITY 199 

scribe and apocalyptist, theologian and mystic, or min 
ister and free-lance. But where such cooperation has 
broken down, the result has always been stagnation, 
disaster and decline. 

But another problem more specifically Indian may 
arise. A Hindu sadhu, it has been already said, is 
credited with magic powers. Sundar is alert to discour 
age that belief. Will every Christian sadhu in the fu 
ture be so careful? More than that, there is the Indian 
doctrine, Worship your Guru as God." Hindu phil 
osophy teaches that man is identical with the great Spirit, 
and the Sannyasi who by "concentration" and asceti 
cism realizes this can say, "I am God," and as such re 
ceives worship not other than the worship which is 
offered to a Hindu divinity. Sundar disclaims the salu 
tation Swami (Lord). In a land where philosophy, tra 
dition and popular acclamation conspire to offer such a 
bait to human vanity, will all withstand? 

Probably some will succumb. But surely the major 
ity will not. The Sannyasi ideal is not easy of attain 
ment; and to have done so much as that and then to 
be able to say, with St. Paul, "I count not myself to 
have apprehended," is a far more difficult thing. Yet 
Sundar Singh has shown that it is an achievement by no 
means impossible to the Indian temperament when in 
spired by the Spirit of Christ. 

It is the genius of Christianity not to crush out natural 
aptitudes, whether in nations or in men, but to inspire 
each to higher achievement along the line of his own 
individual gifts. The sadhu ideal is associated with 
much that is greatest in Indian religion, both in the 
realm of speculative thought and in that of practical 
devotion witness the names of Sankara, Ramanuja, or 



200 SADHU SUNDAR SINGH 

the Buddha himself. The Christian sadliu movement 
has for India the immense promise that it is truly In 
dian. As interpretated by Sundar Singh, it is no less 
truly Christian. 

There may be, there will be, times of danger and of 
conflict. But dangers foreseen and fairly faced can be 
overcome; if the true Spirit of Christ and the spirit of 
prayer be there, they will be overcome. If the regular 
ministers of the Church of India display always the 
gift of sympathy and "discerning of spirits" shown by 
Bishop Lefroy in his dealings with Sundar Singh; if 
Sundar Singh proves to be the first of a line of sadhus 
with even a half -measure of his humility and devotion, 
and his insight into the mind of Christ it will be well 
with India. 



TABLE OP PAEABLES AND ANALOGIES 



The Mirage 41 

The Water Skin 45 

The Disguised Sheep owner 46 

The Vizier s Doll 47 

The Wounded Son 48 

Qualities transferred 49 

The Gambler s Mother.... 50 

The Dacoit s Brother 50 

The Tunneled Mountain.. 51 

Medicine for the Eye 54 

The Beggar and the 

Treasure 59 

The Red Indian Boy C5 

The Poisonous Flower*. ... 71 

The Burning House 72 

The Race in Chains 73 

The Boy and the Fruit- 
tree 73 

The Treasure and the 

Hidden Spring 75 

The Slice of Bread 75 

Clouds from Sea Water... 77 

The Breathing Fish 77 

Messages to Mars 77 

Above the Storm 79 

Pocket Prayers 82 

The Violin of Prayer 84 

The Salt Dissolved 85 

The Loving Slap 127 

The Bird and the Hawk. . . 127 
The Bather and the Wave 127 
The Cow and her Calf. . . 128 



The Rajah and the Coolie. 129 
The Bird and the Snake.. 129 

The Cobweb 130 

The Consumptive of Sikkim 131 

The Weight of Water 131 

The Glowing Coal 131 

Parables of Atrophy 132 

The Morass 133 

The Poisonous Tank 133 

The Wasted Diamonds 134 

The Lazy Debtor 135 

Satan and the Dying Saint 135 

The Three Crosses 136 

The Forgiving Rajah 137 

The Cobra s Skin 138 

The Hunter s Lodge 139 

Frostbite 139 

The Shadow 139 

The Tangled String 145 

The Boy and the Onion... 146 
The Analyst and the Milk. 146 

The Bridge of Water 147 

The Torn Gospel 155 

The Unknown Stranger... 163 
The Sweeper and the Ass. 167 
The Patient and the Snake. 168 

Sun Spots 169 

The Firefly 169 

The Undutiful Son 169 

The Traveler s Fire Box.. 169 

The King s Ruse ~170 

The Inverted Lanternslide 171 



201 



202 SADHU 

Ciphers 172 The Water and the Cup. . 178 

Locked Doors 173 The Feet of India 180 

The Unseen Providence... 173 Filth and Flowers 190 

The Unhatched Chick 174 Three Laborers of Nepal.. 193 



INDEX 



Abelard, 50 

Abraham, 103 f., 128 

Absolution, 130 

Adventures, Notable, 18, 20, 25, 
60, 69, 114, 129, 155, 162, 
163, 164 

Alexander the Great, 53 

Al-Ghazxali, 16 , 

America, xii, 4, 34, 39 

Annihilation, 101 

Angels, 25, 38, 44, 88, 93, 110, 
153, 161, 164, 191 

Apocalyptic 

and Apocalypse of Peter, 88 

and Psychology, 89, 198 

and St. John, 89, 95, 96, 154 

and The Maharishi, 28 

and The Sadhu, Ch. V. 

passim.. 

See also 198 f. 

as medium of Truth, 90 f. 

Jewish, 88 f. 

See also Visions and Ecstasy 

Apostles, The, 157, 161 

Apostles Creed, 93, 117 

Archbishop of Canterbury, 5, 17 

Arya Samaj, 20, 195 

Asceticism, 11, 15, 24, 29, 62, 



Bhagavad Gita, 5, 181, 188 
Bhakti, xi, 143, 184, ff., 186 
Bharatri Harish Chandra, 72 
Bible, The, 6, 16, 35, 43, 53, 60, 
90, 103, Ch. V11I. passim 
and Conversion, 8" if., 159 
and Miracles, 160 ff. 
and Nature, Ch. VIII, 

passim 

Devotional use of, 79 
See also New Testament, 

Daniel, etc. 
Bible in the World, The, xiv, 

10 n., 159 n. 
Bigotry, 148 
Boehme, Jacob, 16 
Booth, General, 117 
Brahmanism, 143 f., 177 
Brain and Spirit, 22, 107 
Buddha, 156, 172, 200 
Buddhism, 15, 25 n., 132, 156 
Business and Religion, 73, 78, 
81 

Cad bury s Works, 35 
Caesar, 53 n. 
Calvary, 136 
Caste, 148 n., 171, 180 



67, 182, 190, 195, 197, 199 Celibacy, 24 ff. 195 



Atonement, 48 ff. 
Augustine (St.), 68, 157, 177 
Authority of the Church, 18, 
102. 117 ff., 161, 196 



Baptism, 10, 32 f. 
Beginners, advice to, 83 ff. 
Bhagats, 31 



203 



Charles, R. H., 88 

Cherubim, 97 

Christ 

and Buddha, 156 

and Women, 195 

as Image of God, 97 

as Light of the World, 185 

as Mystic, 52 



204 



INDEX 



Body of, 64, 99 

Death of, 49, 62 

Divinity of, 53 

in Glory, 92, 112 

Visions of, 7, 21, 44, 92, 97 

Union with, 15, 49, 53 ff., 73 
ff., 79, 113, 141 

See also 112, 113, 179, 182, 

199 and passim 
Church 

as Body of Christ, 54 

Authority of, 18, 102, 117 
ff., 196 

Early, The, 161, 198 

History, 157 

Xew Eastern, 176 

Sectarianism in, 173 
Church of England, 10, 179 

" High " and " Low," 18, 82 

The Sadhu and, 10, 17, 82 
Clergy, Marriage of, 195 f. 

Payment of, 193 ff. 

Training of, 4, 15, 149, 168 
Cobra, 138, 168 
Communion of Saints, 93, 111 
Concentration, 81, 83, 111, 114 

187, 188, 199 
Conscience, 100, 132 
Contrition, 131 

Conversion, 3, 6 ff., 58, 66, 81, 
135, 143, 156, 172 

and forgiveness, 125 

and the Bible, 6, 8, 155 

Psychology of, 9 f. 

St. Paul s, 8, 148 
Cross, Philosophy of, 16 28 

42, 60 ff., 126, 129, 171 
Crucifix, Use of, 81 

Daffodils, illustration from, 148 
Daniel, Bk. of, 88 
Death, 5 n., 128, 138 
Desire, Extinction of, 172 

Expression of, 187 
Devotions, ff. 79 
Discouragement, 169 



Divinity of Man, 55, 95 f., 97, 

185, 199 
Dreams, 110, 121 f. 

Ecstasy, Ch. V. passim, 8, 24, 
28, 30, 38, 40, 44, 60, 81, 
161, 188 

Eiffel Tower, 36 

Elijah, 99 

Emmet, C. W., 114 

England, The Sadhu in, 33, 39 

Enoch, 99 

Eschatology, 88 ff., 91, 102 

Esoteric Teachings, 86, ff., 102, 
137 

Eternal Life, 55, 89, 155 

Eternity, 17, 84, 174, 178 

Europe, Christianity in, 176 

Evesham, Monk of. 108 

Evil Spirits, 118 

Ezekiel, Bk. of, 97, 154 

Faith, Justification by, 142, 149 
Fast, The, 21 ff., 24. 28, 30, 

58, 66, 109 
Father, The Sadhu s, 9, 32, 34, 

44 

Food Restrictions, 36 
Foreign Field, The, xiv, 41 
Forgiveness, 125, 131, 137, 147 
Francis, St., vii, 12 ff., 16, 40, 

41, 62, 99, 150, 187, 189, 

192, 196 
Free Will, 161 

Freudian Psychology, 114 n. 
Frostbite, 139 
Future Life, 73, 89, 90, 91 ff., 

98 ff., 100 ff., 103, 105, 115, 

120, 128, 138, 174 ff. 

Glover, T. R., 198 1 

God, Idea of, 44, 89, 97, 137, 

142. 150 

Graeco-Roman Empire, 198 
Granth, The, 5 
Guru, 166, 195, n., 199 



INDEX 



205 



Gurukuls, 195 
Guyon, Madame, 16 

Heart and Head, 16, 43, 141 ff., 
144 ff., 149 

Heaven, Ch. V. passim, 10, 29, 
30, 36, 38, 42, 44, 53, 56, 
62, 70, 80, 124, 128 
Language of, 93 f., 108, 110, 
118, 158 

Hell, 5, 42, 52, 88, 90, 100 ff., 
108, 110, 124, 136, 170, ff., 
174 
The Bible, and, 90 n. 

Hermits, 38, 40, 179 

Higher Criticism, viii, 52, 156 f. 

Himalayas, 12, 24, 27, 55, 76, 
114, 132, 137, 179, 180, 190 

Hindu Religion. See under 
Arya Samaj, Asceticism, 
Bhakti, Guru, Karma, Phil 
osophy, Sacred Books, Sad- 
hu, Sannyasi, Supreme 
Spirit Swami, Transmi 
gration, Yoga, also pp. 4, 
5, 11, 31, 32, 70, 152, 161, 
170, and Ch. X. passim 

Holy Communion, 82 

Holy Spirit, 14, 54, 80, 104, 
107, 132, 152, 158, 169, 
175, 181, 185, 190 

Home, 4, 10, 24, 57 
Heaven as, 95, 101 

Hope, 168 ff. 

Hornets, 105 

Hypnotism, 8, 58, 107, 186 

Idols, in worship, 20, 45 f., 187 
Ignatius Loyola (St.), 84 
Imitation of Christ, 16, 29 n., 

62, 69, 99, 187 

Immanence, 104, 142, 151, 153 
Immortality (ed. B. H. Street- 

er), 90 
India, 66, 112 

Church of South, 180 f. 



Home Rule for, 78 

Picture of "Mother," 180 

Religious Need of, 52 

Christianity in, Ch. X. passim 
Individualism, 197 
Influenza, spiritual, 157 
Inner Lights, Guidance of, 197 
Inspiration of Biblical Writ 
ers, 114, 151, 158 f. 

of Hindu Sages, 182 
Intellect, The, 60, 144 
Intellectualism, 16, 42, 141 ff., 

143 tf., 149 
Intercession, 76 f. 
Intermediate State, The, 91, 99, 
107 

James, William, 57 

Japan, 4, 33, 176 

Jewish Religion, 89, 142, 150, 

181 

Jnana-Marga, 142, 144, 182 f. 
Job, Book of, 126 
John (St.), 43, 83, 89, 96, 125, 

154 f., 181 

John (St.) of the Cross, 16 
Jowett, Dr. J. H., 18 
Judas Iscariot, 124 
Judgment, 52, 88, 89, 90, 124, 

137 ff. 

Immediate, 102 ff. 
The Last, 99 ff. 
Juliana of Norwich, vii, 40 n., 

102 

Kabir, 184 n. 
Kandy Addresses, xiv, 6 
Karma, 99, 124 ff., 129 f., 182 f. 
Kingdom of Heaven, 100 n. 
Knowledge, Salvation by, 142 

ff., 144 f., 182 
Krishna, 187 
Kristikul, 195 

Lahore Divinity College, 15 
Lamas, 15, 25, 26, 27, 58, 150 



206 



INDEX 



Lazarus, 128 
Lefroy, Bishop, 17, 200 
Lepers, 13, 107, 147 
Life, 103 f., 142 ff., 168 

Eternal, 155 

Participation in Divine, 49, 

52 f., 62, 179, 185 
London, xii, 41, 116, 161 

Bishop of, 18, 162 
Lord s Prayer, The, 82 
Lot, 103 
Lot s Wife, 85 
Louvre, The, 63 
Luther, 68, 149 

Magical Powers, 11, 32, 199 

Maharishi of Kailash, 28, 178 

Mahatma, 11 

Marriage, 24 ff., 194 

Mars, Messages to, 77 

Martyrdom 15, 58 f., 63 f. 

Mary Magdalene, 118 

Mass, The, 82, 179 

Materialism, Western, 39 f. 

Meditation, 11, 43, 69, 79, 83, 
117, 120, 122, 130, 139, 
151, 153, 167, 179, 187 

Ministry. See Clergy 

Miracles, 25 f., 26, 33, 61, 160 
ff., 164 

Missions, 14, 39, 42, 149, 179 

Money, 191 ff. See also Pov 
erty 

Moravians, The, 14 

Moses, 82, 94, 99 

Mother, The Sadhu s, 4, 128, 
190, 195 

Muhammad, 53, 122 

Muhammadanism, 5, 185 

Muller, F. Max, 123 

Music, 16, 92, 94, 181 

Mystics 

Catholic, 117, 188 
Hindu, 156, 185, 186 
Mediaeval Western, 68, 81, 
86, 110, 116, 117, 120, 188, 
189 



Definition of, 67 
Sufi, 16 

Also vii, 14, 30, 112, 145, 

157, 197, 199 
Mysticism 

and Auditions, 118 
and Christ, 52 
and Ecstasy, 104 ff., 119 ff., 

122, 188 
and Ineffability, 42, 57, 67, 

94, 104, 110, 158 
and Peace, See Peace and 

Ch. III. passim 
and Plain Man, 67 ff., 96 
and Suffering, 12, 28, 30 
and Visions, 113, 117, 120 
Christocentric, 40 ff., 62, 92, 

112, 141, 182, 188 

Dark Night of the Soul, 24, 

64 ff., 186 

Illuminative State, 24 
Incapacity for, 68 
Indian, 112, 153, 185, 186 
Nature, 150, 153 
Pauline and Johannine, 25 
Uniqueness of Sadhu, 112 
Unitive State, 9, 24, 60, 113 

Napoleon, 53 

Nature, 16, 77, 150 ff., 161 f. 

Neo-Platonism, 40 n. 

Newspapers, 78 

New Testament, viii, 10, 21, 43, 

61, 83, 115, 149, 154, 155 
Nirvana, 172 
Nur A f shan, The, 20, 164 

Orders, Religious, 13 f., 196 
Oxford, xi f., 25, 28, 38, 41, 45, 
60, 69, 149, 153 

Palestine, 33 

Pandita Ramabai, 182 

Pantheism, 177, 183 ff. 

Paradise, 92, 136 

Paris, xii, 18, 41, 53, 63 



INDEX 



207 



Parker, Mrs., xii f., 19 f., 25, 

27 n., 37, 61 
Paul (St.) 

and Faith, 141 f., 149 
and the Third Heaven, 30, 
36, 44, 86, 87, 92, 95, 115 
and the Thorn in the Flesh, 

23 
as Mystic, vii f., 14, 25, 29, 

40, 41, 62, 141 
Conversion, 8, 148 
See also vii f., 83, 91, 177 f., 

192, 194 

Peace, Cli. TIT, passim, 3, 40, 

ff., 8, 10, 21, 22, 27 n., 28, 

29, 30, 38, 42, 91, 94, 136, 

142, 162, 167, 187, 189 

Persecution, 8, 9, 15, 25, 30, 

42, 60, 86, 162 
Peter (St.), 78, 88 
Philosophy, 80, 91, 141, 142 f., 

177, 181 n., 182 IF. 
of the Cross, 16, 28, 42, 60 

ff., 126, 129, 171 
Picture thinking, viii, 43, 71 

., 178 
Planets, 54 
Poverty, 10 f., 29, 34, 70, 191 

ff. 

Prayer, 14, 30, 67, 69, 74 ff., 
78 ff., 81 ff., 84, 117, 122, 
139, 147, 167, 169, 200 
Aids to, 80 
Answers to, 115, 116 
Best time for, 84 
Corporate, 81, 179 
Difficulties of, 84 
Intercessory, 76 
Language of, 74, 80 
Meetings, 179 
of Quiet, 80 ff., 84 
Quaker Method of, 81, 179 
The Lord s, 82 
Written, 82 
Preaching, 3, 11, 52, 78, 87, 

166 ff. 
Prediction, 119 



Priest and Prophet, 198 
Prophets, 91, 119, 150, 157, 

181, 197 ff. 
Providence, 173 ff. 
Psalms, 91, 142, 151, 152, 154, 

157 
Psychology 

and Apocalyptic, 89, 198 

and Conversion, 9 

and Ecstasy, 111, 114 

and Inspiration, 114 

and Intellect, 144 

and Peace, 57 

and Philosophy of Cross, 61 

and Dark Night of the Soul, 
64 

and Visions, 112 ff., 120 ff. 

Freud s, 121 n. 

of Inspiration, 114 n. 

of Power, 114 n. 

Kee also Religion 

Quakers, 81, 179, 197 
Quran, 5 

Rama, 187 
Ramanuja, 184, 199 
Reincarnation. See Karma 
Religion 

and Morality, 52, 172, 173 
and Psychology, 50, 61, 90 

f., 100, 111, 113, 114, 120 

f. 

and Science, 8, 77, 144, 161 
Religious Experience, 58, 83, 

87, 117, 145 
Renunciation, 61, 70, 72, 191, 

192 
Repentance, 101, 102, ff., 125, 

131, 135, 136, 139, 147, 

172 

Resurrection, 88, 98 ff. 
Retribution 125 ff., 137 
Reunion, 17, 173 
Revelation of 8t. John, 89, 96, 

97, 154 
Revelation of Peter, 88 



208 



INDEX 



Revelations. See Apocalyptic 

Ritual, 143, 181, 187 

Roman Catholics, 117, 130, 149 

Sacraments, 11, 31, 82, 157 
Sacred books of India, 5, 159, 

178, 182 
Sadhu 

Meaning of word, 11, 32, 68, 

195 

Pronounciation of, 3 n. 
Sadhus, Christian, 11, 13, 18, 

180 ff., 189 ff., 195, 196 
Said and Muhammad, 122 
Saints, 36, 93, 97, 99, 116, 135, 

178, 183 

Communion of, 93, 117 
Salt, 85 
Salvation, 49, 102, 131, 137, 

142 f., 171 f. 
Samadhi, 188 
Sanday, Dr. Wm., 150 
Sankara, 184, 256 
Sannyasi, 11, 70, 72, 142 f., 185 

-., 195, 199 
Secret Mission, 27 
Satan, 64, 79, 101 f. 118 ff., 

130, 135, 168, 191 
Science and Religion. See Re 
ligion 

Sebastian, (St.), 63 
Self -sacrifice, 85, 113, 169 ff., 

190 

Sikhs, 4 f., 6, 80 
Sin and Sinners, 57, 66, 98, 
100, 102, f., 124, 128, 129 
f., 135, 138, 147, 185 
Spirit, The Supreme, 6, 185, 

199 
Spirit, The (ed. B. H. Street- 

er), 9, 114 

Spirit and Brain, 22, 107 
Spiritual Healing, 32 
Spiritualism, 119 f. 
Stokes, S. E., xiv, 12, 28 
"The Love of God," 13 n., 
31 n. 



Subconscious mind, 121 
Suffering, 124 ff., 127 ff. See 
also, 23, 29, 30 f., 51, 60, 
62 f., 171, 190 
Sun, eclipse of, 145 

spots, 169 
Sundar Singh 
and Animals, 36 
and Baptizing, 32 
and Cold, 36 
and Convention, 35 
and Food Regulations, 36 
and Miracles, 25 f., 33 60 

160 ff. 
and Poverty, 10 f., 29, 34, 70, 

jLy i u. 

and Preaching, 3, 11, 52, 78, 
87, 166 ff. 
and Reading, 16, 78 
and Sandals, 36 
and Self-sacrificing Service, 

vii, 85, 113, 169 ff., 190 
and The Church, 37, 107 
and Universalism, 102, 137, 

177 ff. 

and Women, 195 f. 
as a Missionary, 42 
as a Prophet, 183 f. 
as a Traveler, 153 
Birth of, 4 
Call of, 9 ff. 

Devotional Habits, 79 f. 
Early Christian Experience 

of, 83 

Early Struggles as a Chris 
tian, 9 ff. 

Headquarters of, 13 
Humor of, 36, 166 
Imprisonment of, 60 
Influence on, 240 
Insight, 87, 113, 143, 166, 

200 

Martyrdom, Views on, 63 f. 
not a Philosopher, viii, 183 
Parents of. See Father, 
Mother 



INDEX 



209 



Sundar Singh continued 

Personal appearance of. viii, 

f., 35 

Relaxations of, 151 
Teaching Methods, viii, x, 71 

n., 178 

Sutlej, River, 45, 40 n. 
Swaini, 11, 68, 199 
Sweden borg, 16 
Sweeper, 132, 148, 167 
Symbolism, 90, 110, 112, 113, 
121, 150 

Tagore, Rabindranath, 184 n. 

Deveudranath, 40 
Tamil Addresses, xiv, 47, 59, 

115 n., 124, KM 
Telepathy, 1U8 

Temptations, 23, 78, 141, 162 
Theologians, Jll, 143, 108 
Theological Training, 4, 15, 

149, 168 

Theology, Systematic, 43 
Theosophy, 120 f., 197 
Theresa (St.), 10 
Thieves, The, dying, 92, 136 
Thomas, Church of St., 180 
Thomas a Kempis, 99, 187 
Tibet, 3, 14, 15, 25, 30, 33, 58, 

63, 69, 132, 133, 138, 150, 

163 
Trances, 6, 8, 11, 104, 106 f 

108, 120, 122, 186 



Transfiguration, The, 99 
Transmigration of Souls, 98, 

129, 155 

Travancore, xiii, 180 n. 
Trinity, The, 43 ff., 185 
Truth, 9, 90 ff., 184, 198 

Ujjain, King of, 72 
Underhill, Miss E., 56, 65 n. 
Universalism, 102 f., 137, 177 

ff. 

Upanishads, 5 
Urdu, 5 n., 154 

Values, sense of, viii, 143, 183, 

186 

Vedaa, 20, 152 
Vocation, 107, 101 
Von Hiigel, Baron, xii, 37, 177, 

185 

Warwick, G., 102 n. 
Wesley, John, 68, 117 
Westcott, Hishop, 126 
Wordsworth, 111 f., 148, 150 

Yoga, 0, 8, 100, 182, 186 ff. 

Zahir, A., xiv 

A Lover of the Cross, 20 n., 

164 n. 

Roul-Stirring Addresses, 29 
n-., 195 n. 



PRINTED IN THB UNITBD STATES OJ 1 AMERICA 



j 




iiiiii i iiiii 




Ijlllljjjllfllli^ 

illHiif^^ 

i;iij;iiii^iii!;ii!^ 
!ll Sllltl!:iil!i!lit^ 

:ill!lifllll||ll^ !l 

itSillilB^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^ 

^^Hlilllllilll 

;lll lilil II II I ii!